A new portrait of queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid was recently dedicated at a Scottish university classroom renamed in her honor.
The Althaus-Reid Room, formerly known as Room 1.07, was dedicated on Sept. 15 at the school where she taught: New College School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Born in Argentina, Althaus-Reid became the first woman appointed to a chair at the divinity school in 2006. She held that position when she died in 2009 at age 56.
The portrait was painted by David Martin, an artist living in Scotland. It is a rare portrait focusing on the intellectual power of a woman. In the painting Althaus-Reid smiles seriously next to a chalkboard and a wall papered with pictures representing various parts of her life and theology.
Key concepts from her theology are handwritten in chalk on the blackboard: otherness, difference, decency, indecency, freedom, undressing and sexual ethics. The images on the wall behind her include the virgin of Guadalupe, a portrait of socialist philosopher Karl Marx, an antique map of South America, a snapshot of a couple dancing the Argentine ballroom dance known as the tango, and a poster for an Argentine rock band.
A photo of a woman in high boots may be a reference to the 2011 book “Dancing Theology in Fetish Boots: Essays in Honour of Marcella Althaus Reid,” edited by Lisa Isherwood and Mark D. Jordan.
As of February 2017, the divinity school was awaiting room redecoration before putting the painting on exhibit. A school spokesperson told Q Spirit that they intend to display it in in the Rainy Hall, a communal dining room that is the social hub for studen6ts and faculty of the divinity school. The elegant Gothic revival room features various portraits, fancy chandeliers, ornate gilding, and wood panelling adorned with coats of arms.
Today’s theologians still teach and write about her controversial books, including “The Queer God” and “Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics.” Her reputation continues to grow with the release of books based on her work, such as the 2016 collection “Indecent Theologians: Marcella Althaus-Reid and the Next Generation of Postcolonial Activists,” edited by Nicolas Panotto.
Diverse contributors build on her subversive landmark book “Indecent Theology.” They come from the USA, Europe and a wide variety of Latin American countries. They include Susannah Cornwall, Leopoldo Cervantes-Ortiz, Adrian Emmanuel Hernandez-Acosta, Jorge Aquino, Gabriela González Ortuño, Nicolás Panotto, Emilce Cuda, Claudio Carvalhaes, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza and Oscar Cabrera. Panotto is an Argentinean theologian from the IU ISEDET (Buenos Aires).
Marcella Althaus-Reid: Queer theology pioneer (Jesus in Love blog)
Books by or about Marcella Althaus-Reid
Indecent Theologians: Marcella Althaus-Reid and the Next Generation of Postcolonial Activists,” edited by Nicolas Panotto
Dancing theology in fetish boots: Essays in honour of Marcella Althaus Reid edited by Lisa Isherwood and Mark D. Jordan
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This post is part of the LGBTQ Saints series by Kittredge Cherry. Traditional and alternative saints, people in the Bible, LGBTQ martyrs, authors, theologians, religious leaders, artists, deities and other figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and our allies are covered.
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