Book Reviews

Women, Religion, Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen


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This book caught my eye on Netgalley, and I was happy to have the opportunity to read it for free for the purpose of writing this review.

In this scholarly work, Katherine Mitchell presents a careful and detailed study of the work that women do to promote peace. Using case studies, the book examines how this work is informed, assisted, and hindered, by the womens’ personal religious beliefs and the religious, social, and political structures in which they live.

Mitchell has put together a collection that effectively questions and expands the boundaries for our understanding of what can be included in the work of peacebuilding. With essays that consider the efforts of women along a spectrum from the personal and internal to the international stages, the essays uncover the richness of the language that inspires women’s drive for peace.

The book is clearly intended for an academic audience, and its style clearly reflects this. With just enough detail to establish time and place, the case studies do not delve into the complexities of the conflicts they discuss. The reader is not distracted from the pointed focus on the peacebuilding efforts and the religuous ideas that inform them, however, a general knowledge of international events is necessary to untangle the many places, names, organizations, and acronyms that appear.

While this book may not resolve the conflicts of the world, it does raise important questions about what actors and ideas cam shape the road to this ultimate goal.

I included this book review on the blog because it includes a discussion of Jewish understandings of shalom, and a case study involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a female Conservative rabbi who is often frustrated by the ways in which these ideas are presented, I appreciated the attention to women’s voices that are having an impact on the discourse of shalom. It provided significant food for thought about how I speak about conflict in my community, and the role I could play as both a religious leader and peacebuilder.

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