Brewer, Carolyn 1946–

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Brewer, Carolyn 1946–

PERSONAL:

Born 1946. Education: Graduated from Canterbury University; Murdoch University, B.A. (with honors), Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Gender Relations Centre, College of Asia and the Pacific, H.C. Coombs Bldg., Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Educator and writer. Australian National University, Gender Relations Centre in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, member of staff.

WRITINGS:

(Editor, with Anne-Marie Medcalf) Researching the Fragments: Histories of Women in the Asian Context, New Day Publishers (Quezon City, Philippines), 2000.

Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521-1685, Institute of Women's Studies (Manila, Philippines), 2001, revised edition published as Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Keeping Our Heads above Water: Reflections on the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women, 1998; Other Pasts: Women, Gender and History in Early Modern Southeast Asia, 2000. Editor and Web manager for Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (formerly Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context).

SIDELIGHTS:

Carolyn Brewer is a gender studies scholar with a focus on Asia and the Philippines. She earned an undergraduate degree in religious and feminist studies from Canterbury University before going on to receive a B.A. with honors and a Ph.D. from Murdoch University. Brewer worked as the coeditor of Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context from 1998 to 2007. She took over editorship of the journal when it moved from Murdoch University to the Australian National University and was retitled Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. Brewer has contributed to books in her area of expertise, including Other Pasts: Women, Gender and History in Early Modern Southeast Asia. Her first full-length publication, Researching the Fragments: Histories of Women in the Asian Context, which she edited with Anne-Marie Medcalf, was published in 2000.

The following year, a revised version of Brewer's doctoral dissertation was published as Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521-1685. This historical overview discusses the influence of Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially regarding gender roles. Much of the cultural upheaval of the time centered on the conversion to Christianity, which challenged, if not abolished, existing sexual roles and moralities. The book is divided into three parts, not including the introduction and conclusion. Despite these divisions, Barbara Watson Andaya, reviewing the book in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, felt that "a stronger editorial hand might have resulted in a more streamlined manuscript." Despite this minor criticism, Andaya roundly applauded the book. Indeed, Andaya claimed that "this study is exceptional because of its strong theoretical framework, its exhaustive research, and its forceful and at times passionate argument." Further discussing Holy Confrontation, Andaya commented, "I gained enormously from reading this detailed and compelling book." According to Andaya, the book "prob[es] the intersections between sex, power and gender" and is thus "an extremely important addition to our understanding of the way in which European and Christian ideas were introduced into the Philippines, and the long shadow which they cast over later history."

Three years after Holy Confrontation was published, the revised American edition was released as Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685. This widely reviewed edition also met with much critical praise. Makito Kawada, writing in Asian Folklore Studies, remarked on the book's relevance, stating that "the topic of gender relations in recent Philippine studies has become a focal point in many academic fields." Kawada also felt that the most interesting aspect of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685 is Brewer's discussion of the "animistic-shamanic specialist in folk society called baylan." Because of this focus, Kawada felt that "of the many works produced on gender studies in the Philippines, this perspective is quite unique, even outstanding." Kawada also remarked upon Brewer's extensive research, commenting: "Considering that most documents [referenced in the book] are scattered and in other areas even lost, this manuscript is of a high quality." Kawada concluded that this fact, "taken together with the author's analysis," makes the book "valuable for improving knowledge of Philippine local history."

Like Andaya, Osvaldo Pardo, writing in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, felt that "a strong editorial hand would have improved the final product." Nevertheless, Pardo called Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685 an "idiosyncratic study," further noting that Brewer's topic "offers an extraordinarily fertile area for studying the impact of colonialism on gender relations and sexuality." Church History contributor Lisa J.M. Poirier aligned her opinions with that of other critics, acknowledging the book's topical value. Indeed, Poirier stated that the book "fills a serious lacuna in scholarship on interactions between colonizers and colonized during the early modern period in the Philippines." Poirier concluded that "the good use made of the … available materials recommends this work to historians of colonial processes, historians of the Philippines, church historians, and historians of religion."

Brewer told CA: "I came to writing as a mature student—after my daughters had fled the nest and my family-raising responsibilities were completed. In the late 1980s I read Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology and Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow's edited collection WomanSpirit Rising and decided to go to university to follow up my burgeoning interest in the impact of religion on women's lives. Subsequently other American feminist theologians such as Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza provided theoretical positions through which I was able to explore the impact of Catholicism on women's lives in the Philippines. I chose the Philippines because of the rich historical primary source material that was left in the early modern period (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) by Spanish explorers and missionaries intent on colonizing the archipelago for Spain and people's souls for Catholicism. In furthering this passion about women and religion, I am currently working on a history of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Philippines.

"My other passion, though, is the work I do as editor of Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. This electronic journal, which began in 1998 at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, as a small coedited project to provide a place where historical essays on gender in Asia could be published, has blossomed beyond our wildest dreams. In 2006, Anne-Marie Medcalf, the other editor of the journal, resigned. I subsequently moved to the Australian National University in 2008, and a decision was made to change the journal's subtitle to more clearly reflect its content and to add the Pacific as a specific area of research. The journal is now titled: Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. It emphasizes the paramount importance of research into the multiple historical and cultural, gender and sexuality patterns in Asian and the Pacific—patterns that are crucial for the understanding of contemporary globalised societies, where identities and social relations are constantly being negotiated against the background of dominant narratives. This electronic journal is especially important, because, as a free to the Web resource, it provides access to information and ideas not otherwise available to scholars of gender and sexuality in developing nations."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December 1, 2005, Mina Roces, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 1509.

Asian Folklore Studies, April 1, 2006, Makito Kawada, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 116.

Choice, June 1, 2005, W.A. Longacre, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 1876.

Church History, December 1, 2006, Lisa J.M. Poirier, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 954.

Journal of Asian Studies, February 1, 2002, Susan Mann, review of Researching the Fragments: Histories of Women in the Asian Context, p. 179; November 1, 2005, Thommes Oona Paredes, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 1067.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 1, 2006, Osvaldo Pardo, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 383.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2005, review of Shamanism, Catholicism, and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521-1685, p. 146.

ONLINE

Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context,http://intersections.anu.edu.au/ (May 20, 2008), Barbara Watson Andaya, review of Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521-1685.

Murdoch University Asia Research Centre Web site,http://wwwarc.murdoch.edu.au/ (May 20, 2008), author profile.

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Brewer, Carolyn 1946–

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