In Search of the Public Theologian: Mary-Anne Elizabeth Plaatjies-Van Huffel’s Womanist Public Engagement
Keywords:Mary-Anne Elizabeth Plaatjies-Van Huffel, womanist theology, Reformed theology, public theology
Academic theology remains male dominated, both in bodies present and in the research methodologies employed. It is a commonplace to refer to Mary-Anne Elizabeth Plaatjies-Van Huffel in terms of a foundationally Reformed theologian and church polity specialist. This is often done without adequate attention to the important role that gender played both in her biography and teaching. There is a need to centre our focus on the matter of gender to see how this had influenced her life’s work. The roles fulfilled by Plaatjies-Van Huffel were as an African feminist, decolonial thinker, ecumenist and Reformed theologian. It may be helpful, when considering her life’s work, to draw these orientations together through a study of her as a public theologian. An exploration into the contours of her intellectual life may thus be helpful for both understanding the life and work of Plaatjies-Van Huffel, and in analysing the continued development of public theology as an intellectual discipline. Such an analysis, nevertheless, must account for her centring of a particular gender politics in the public sphere as a black woman. Alice Walker offers a definition for “the womanist”: “A black feminist or feminist of colour … Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength … Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.” Plaatjies-Van Huffel embodied this definition by working for unity, reconciliation and justice in the three publics. How may a womanist and public theological reading of Plaatjies-Van Huffel enrich our understanding of her? This article employs womanist theory as a lens through which to read and understand Plaatjies-Van Huffel as a public theologian.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Ashwin Afrikanus Thyssen, Sheurl Davis
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.