Allocco publishes book chapter on feminist anthropology and mentoring

The chapter is included in a volume that grew out of an April 2018 symposium at Colgate University honoring two of Allocco’s undergraduate mentors.

Amy L. Allocco, associate professor of religious studies and director of Elon’s Multifaith Scholars program, recently published a chapter in an anthology titled “Women and Religion, Philosophy and Feminism: The Colgate Heritage in Honor of Professors Marilyn Thie and Wanda Warren Berry.”

The book is edited by Christopher Vescey, the Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of the Humanities and Native American Studies in the Department of Religion at Colgate, and grew out of a symposium held at Colgate in April 2018 to honor the contributions of these two professors. While Allocco took classes with both faculty members during her undergraduate years at Colgate, Professor Warren Berry was her primary advisor and the mentor of her Humanities Summer Research Fellowship.

Allocco was invited back to Colgate’s campus for the three-day symposium in April along with four other alumnae who have gone on to earn doctorates in religious studies and philosophy. These former students of Warren Berry and Thie presented papers reflecting on the undergraduate training they received and how this legacy has shaped their careers as teachers and scholars at their respective institutions.

Allocco presented alongside Teresa Delgado, another of Warren Berry’s mentees, who is now associate professor of theology and ethics at Iona College and a member of Colgate’s Board of Trustees. Allocco was also invited to guest teach in a course titled “Health and Healing in Asian Religions” by the instructor, Assistant Professor of Religion Aftab Jassal at Colgate. Other symposium presenters who are included in the newly published volume are Dianne M. Stewart (associate professor of religion at Emory University), Chris J. Cuomo (professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Georgia), and Marianne Janack (professor of philosophy at Hamilton College), with responses authored by Thie and Warren Berry.

Allocco’s chapter, “Nurtured and Challenged: Feminist Mentoring and Memory at Colgate and Beyond,” describes her intellectual and personal development under Warren Berry’s tutelage and mentorship and the ways these experiences shaped her trajectory as a teacher, scholar and mentor. She outlines how the feminist questions originally framed during her studies as a double major in philosophy and religion and Asian studies at Colgate — about the gendered nature of religious traditions and institutions, who has the authority to speak about and critique them, and the complicated role that religion plays in identity formation, power structures and social relations—have remained salient in her scholarship and teaching. She discusses questions about ethnographic representation and collaboration and how the act of “writing the field” is a power-laden enterprise.

The chapter argues for feminist anthropological practices that produce more inclusive, engaged and nuanced scholarship through consistent commitment to reflexivity, context-sensitivity and power-sharing both in fieldwork and in writing. Allocco reflected on fieldwork on a female Hindu healer in South India that she published in the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion in a 2013 article that earned the journal’s Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award, as a case study to illustrate these feminist anthropological practices and connected Warren Berry’s example to her own teaching at Elon, particularly in the “Current Controversies in Feminism” capstone course for the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor.