This essay argues that while historians of working-class women have generally developed a complex and multi-faceted approach to studying their subjects, that religion has remained largely invisible in such studies. This essay argues for the value of incorporating religion as a category of analysis in the study of working-class women. It provides some discussion of absences in the existing literature, primarily using American and English Canadian examples along with a few forays into relevant British work. More attention is focused on recent literature which does fully incorporate religion into the lives of their subjects, such as work in African-American women's history and within the field of “lived religion”. Scholars of lived religion explore religion as part of working-class women's lives, and demonstrate the complex, messy and important ways in which the religious and the secular can combine in everyday lives. This essay explores reasons why most scholars of working-class women have largely ignored religion and argues that the approaches discussed here can point the way forward for the field of working-class women's history. The essay provides examples of particular areas of study, such as motherhood, consumption and women and unions, as areas where our ability to “see” religion as part of women's lives would deepen and strengthen our understanding of these topics.
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Book Review| March 01 2009
Challenging Binaries: Working-Class Women and Lived Religion in English Canada and the United States
An earlier version of this article was presented as part of a plenary session at the conference “Labouring Feminism and Feminist Working-Class History in North America and Beyond,” University of Toronto, September 2005. I thank Franca Iacovetta, Ian Radforth, Nancy Forestell, and Leon Fink for their comments on an earlier draft of this article.
Labor (2009) 6 (1): 107–125.
Lynne Marks; Challenging Binaries: Working-Class Women and Lived Religion in English Canada and the United States. Labor 1 March 2009; 6 (1): 107–125. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2008-047
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