Mary C. Churchill is interested in the complex interaction between religion and gender in American Indian cultures. The author of forthcoming chapters on Native American women's studies and indigenous reproductive rights, she is revising a book-length manuscript titled “Mother Corn: Toward an Indigenous Theory of Cherokee Women’s Literature.” Her interest in Cherokee literature stems from her own mixed-blood Cherokee heritage.
While at Radcliffe, Churchill will examine the potentially contradictory implications of indigenous religious traditions for American Indian and First Nations women. Focusing on cases of domestic violence and sexual assault and the issue of reproductive health, Churchill will trace the ways in which Native women’s authority has been restored, maintained, or compromised as Western colonial and patriarchal values have affected these traditions. Her study will reveal how Native women are caught at the crossroads of competing philosophies and how indigenous traditions are not simply revived but recreated, with profound implications for Native communities in the twenty-first century.
A 2001 recipient of the Faculty Equity and Excellence Award from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she is an assistant professor of women’s studies and religious studies, Churchill was a finalist for the North American Prose Award the prior year. She earned her PhD in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.