Queer(y)ing the Epistemic Violence of Christian Gender Discourses

  • Jo Henderson-Merrygold
Part of the Religion and Radicalism book series (RERA)


In this chapter, Jo Henderson-Merrygold discusses the historic significance of the church as arbiter of morality and decency, influencing the creation and perpetuation of what Michel Foucault calls epistemes and discourses: the network of beliefs, ideologies, social practices, and power relations that shape people’s understanding of their world. Henderson-Merrygold considers Christian heteronormative discourses of gender and sexuality, which prescribe the recognition of others’ humanity in light of their gender identities and sexual preferences. Building on Gayatri Spivak’s work on epistemic violence and Judith Butler’s notion of “undoing” humanity, she explores how these Christian discourses render queer lives and experiences unintelligible and not human, and the implications of this for the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans(gender) (LGBT) people. Specifically, she argues that these discourses may sustain certain forms of epistemic violence against LGBT people, denying recognition to their full humanity and thereby rendering them increasingly marginalized and vulnerable.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo Henderson-Merrygold
    • 1
  1. 1.Sheffield Institute of Interdisciplinary Biblical StudiesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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