The Normative Power of Images: Religion, Gender, Visuality

In: Religion and Gender
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In this introductory article to the special issue of Religion and Gender on gender, normativity and visuality, we establish the theoretical framework to discuss the influence of visual culture on gender norms. This introduction also provides a reflection on how these norms are communicated, reaffirmed and contested in religious contexts. We introduce the notion of visuality as individual and collective signifying practices, with a particular focus on how this regards gender norms. Two main ways in which religion, gender and normativity are negotiated in visual meaning making processes are outlined: on the one hand, the religious legitimation of gender norms and their communication and confirmation through visual material, and on the other hand, the challenge of these norms through the participation in visual culture by means of seeing and creating. These introductory reflections highlight the common concerns of the articles collected in this issue: the connection between the visualisation of gender roles within religious traditions and the influence of religious gender norms in other fields of (visual) culture.

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