Auckland TheoRel are delighted to welcome their first visiting scholar of the year, Jo Henderson-Merrygold, who has come all the way from the Sheffield Institute of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) to work with us for five weeks. Jo is a PhD Student at SIIBS, and her visit has been generously funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), as part of their doctoral training programme. In her PhD research, she is developing a strategy to read the Bible against established gender norms. In particular, she wants to challenge the way many readers assume that biblical characters are cisgendered – that their assigned (and assumed) gender remains consistent and fixed throughout their lives. She calls her approach a Hermeneutics of Cispicion.
At Sheffield, Jo is co-director of Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the Bible out of the Closet. Hidden Perspectives showcases challenging voices and research which invite new perspectives on norms of gender, sex, sexuality, race and class. Recent events have included papers covering sex-work in Hong Kong, post-holocaust readings of gender norms, HIV and LGBT activism in Kenya, and a hugely successful ‘Orange is the New Bible’ symposium. Later in 2017 Hidden Perspectives will be organizing a showcase of student research from across the Faculty of Arts at Sheffield.
One of Jo’s main tasks while she is in Auckland is to work with Auckland’s Faculty of Arts staff and students to develop a ‘sister’ Hidden Perspectives programme here. Hidden Perspectives NZ: Bringing the Arts out of the Closet is a new venture organized by Rainbow Arts and Arts Equity that seeks to provide a platform for LGBTI+ student voices across the Faculty of Arts, and to foster a social and academic community where LGBTI+ Arts students can meet, share ideas, support each other, and get inspired by queer research and activism.
Jo is delighted to be working with Hidden Perspectives New Zealand during the time she is here. She is organizing a new HPNZ website, has been meeting staff and students involved in HPNZ, and is currently busy getting our HPNZ promotional material ready for Orientation Week at the University. She will also be participating in a few HPNZ events while she is here, including our official launch (16 March) and her very own ‘My Queer Research’ seminar (17 March – details to come). Jo is so dedicated that she doesn’t even take weekends off, and spent last Saturday evening parading with University staff and students at Auckland’s annual Pride Parade. But we do give her a wee bit of time off, and she is having a great time exploring Auckland, enjoying our blue skies and warm sunny days (a bit of a change from the snow she left in the UK) and relishing the chorus of cicadas that provide the songscape in NZ at this time of year . Welcome Jo, and we hope you continue to enjoy your time in Auckland!