Date of Graduation

5-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Anthropology

Advisor/Mentor

Kirstin Erickson

Committee Member

JoAnn D'Alisera

Second Committee Member

Ram Natarajan

Keywords

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon women, Mormonism, Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Women in the Mormon Church

Abstract

The question of women’s agency in gender-traditional religions has been the subject of much scholarly attention over the past four decades, but little research has been done focusing specifically on Latter-day Saint women and their identities and roles within the structure and practice of the Church. In popular media representations, Latter-Day Saint women are often depicted as submissive or surviving, either powerless pawns or resistant warriors. However, many Latter-day Saint women find fulfillment and empowerment within and because of, rather than outside or in spite of, the institutional Church. In this thesis, I explore women’s agency in Northwest Arkansas’ Greendale First Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, analyzing women’s expressions of faith in both ward and temple contexts. By qualifying and participating righteously, taking up lay leadership roles, engaging in theologizing discussions, and interpreting experiences through the Church’s key symbols, women in the Church find a multitude of agential modes through which to exercise power and authority.

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