Each year, the WRG project will host three Fellows at Yale to enrich the colloquium and the graduate seminars with their lived experience and expertise: two Women Living Religion Fellows (WLR Fellows) and one Religion and International Affairs (RIA) Fellow.

The Women Living Religion Fellows will bring to our campus and our conversation their experience as religious practitioners and activists. They will help us better to understand the role that religious women, who typically subsist in the grassroots arena, play in the processes of globalization. These Fellows will come from a context in which they work with or as grassroots community leaders, clergy and activists, or advocacy and development workers (i.e. NGO employees, UN Agency or community outreach workers, etc.). Ideally, the Fellows will be women in the initial stages of their careers.

The Religion and International Affairs Fellows will contribute a policy perspective on these issues of religion and globalization. These fellows bring experience as agency leaders, managers, advisors, or consultants at relatively high levels in international organizations, including governmental foundations or donor agencies such as the World Council of Churches, the World Bank, or the United Nations.

All three Fellows will participate in the colloquium, in a series of workshops with graduate students, and in the graduate courses. They will be asked to focus particularly on identifying the lessons for both advocacy and policy communities. Near the end of each fellowship period, the Fellows will organize a two-day workshop at Yale to explore some of the key challenges identified.

The Fellows for the 2009 spring term are:

Noura Saleh Alturki is manager of development projects, including research, at the Khadijah Bint Khuwailid Businesswomen Center, a women’s lobbying and empowerment organization in Saudi Arabia that is affiliated with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At the center, she designs research projects aimed at understanding the legal and cultural environment for women’s employment, entrepreneurship, and participation in public life. When not working on gender issues, Ms. Alturki is involved with Recycle Your City, a not-for-profit environmental organization that she founded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to promote recycling practices, raise awareness, and lobby for sustainable solid waste management practices. Ms. Alturki completed her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at Brown University and holds an MSc in Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy from the University of Oxford.  Her graduate dissertation, “From Homemakers to Industrial Workers: Gendered ideologies, economic realities, and women’s employment in rural Saudi Arabia” (2006) focused on the tension between cultural traditions proscribing a domestic role for women and economic forces pushing women into the workforce.

Neloufer de Mel is the Director of Studies for the Faculty of Arts, a Professor of English, and a Lecturer for the Postgraduate Diploma and MA in Women’s Studies programs, at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. She was a 2006 Associate in Global Women’s Studies at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center and a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow with Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University.  Previously, she has served as a Visiting Scholar with the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University.   Her recent publications include Militarizing Sri Lanka: Popular Culture, Memory and Narrative in the Sri Lankan Armed Conflict (2007), ‘Between the War and the Sea: Critical Events, Contiguities and Feminist Domains,’Intervention: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies (2007), Gendering the Tsunami: Women’s Experiences from Sri Lanka withKanchana Ruwanpura(2006), Bearing Witness: Women’s Experiences of Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka, Kelaniya & the Hague (2005), and ‘Sri Lanka: Mother Politics and Women’s Politics,’ in Gender Mainstreaming in Conflict Transformation (2005).  She has co-edited At the Cutting Edge: Essays in honour of Kumari Jayawardena (2007) and Writing an Inheritance: Women’s Writing in Sri Lanka 1860-1948 (2002).  Professor de Mel’s work has been presented at many international conferences and cited in both national and international peer reviewed journals.  She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, holds an MA from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and a Ph.D. on Nationalism and Postcolonial Theatre from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.

Andrea K. Blanch is the President and Director of the Center for Religious Tolerance, a non-profit organization promoting understanding among the world’s religions and helping religion to become a force for peace.  She is also an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida. From 2004-2006, she was the Executive Director for the Center on Women, Violence and Trauma, a national center funded by SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.  She has previously served as the Executive Director of the National Trauma Consortium, and as Director of the Collaborative for Conflict Management in Mental Health at the University of South Florida. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the Sarasota Coalition on Inclusion and Diversity. Her recent publications include ‘Towards healing trauma in the Holy Land’, PsyCritiques: The American Psychological Association Contemporary Journal of Reviews (2008), ‘Transcending violence: Emerging models for trauma healing in refugee communities’, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2008), ‘Integrating religion and spirituality in mental health: The promise and the challenge’, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal (2007), ‘The political as personal: The human side of suicide among young Palestinians’, PsyCritiques: The American Psychological Association Contemporary Journal of Reviews (2006), and ‘Beyond the conflict: Women spiritual peacemakers in the Holy Land’, Elixir (2005).  Professor Blanch completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University, and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Vermont.