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The International Scholars of the History of Women Religious Association (ISHWRA)

ISHWRA is an international network of scholars founded in 2021 whose specific focus is to promote and facilitate enquiry into the history of Catholic female religious through a global lens.

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Currently the history of women religious exists largely in national, regional and chronological silos; ISHWRA endeavours to address this, being deliberately broad in its scope, not only with regard to presenters and participants but crucially, in terms of content. 

The principal output of ISHWRA is a monthly research seminar and a biennial workshop. All seminars are hosted virtually to allow for global participation, but some take place in a hybrid form through an in-person and online format. These particular events are hosted by the Centre for Catholic Studies. The rationale behind the seminar series is that it allows for the tracking of major international research themes, which include the history of female religious in relation to matters of education, faith and spirituality, gender, politics, race, and social care. The seminar series invites contributions from scholars from a broad array of disciplinary backgrounds.

The focus of the network is deliberately transnational and multidisciplinary, welcoming participation from those who come from a broad array of scholarly and non-scholarly backgrounds alike.

Who We Are

The convening committee of ISHWRA is composed of the following, from whom any further information may be requested:

The work of ISHWRA benefits from the support of an Advisory Committee, comprising: 

ISHWRA Seminar Series

All are welcome to attend ISHWRA seminars. Some seminars are hybrid and others are fully online so, wherever you are in the world, we hope you can make it!

See below for the seminar schedule for 2022/23.

Seminars last around 75 minutes. The seminars are being held fully online, except for the 25 November seminar which will be hybrid. Seminar start times shown below are London (UK) time.

All are welcome to attend. Registration opens at three weeks before each seminar.

Date and start time (London time, UK) Speaker Title


26 October,

1pm BST (GMT+1)

Liliana Perez Miguel 

(Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

Making the Law: The Role of Religious Women in the Construction of Law in the Viceroyalty of Peru


25 November,

3pm GMT

Isabel Harvey

(Université Catholique de Louvain/L’Université du Québec à Montréal)

Non-cloistered Religious Women and Rome at the Aftermath of the Council of Trent: A Journey in Archives

Hybrid seminar (online and in person)


7 December,

2pm GMT

Kristien Suenens 

(KADOC, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Mothers of a Local Church: Gender, Race, and Church Politics and the Emergence of African Sister Congregations in Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda (1900-1950)

Co-organised with USL-B (Belgium)


18 January,

2pm GMT

Elizabethada Wright

(University of Minnesota Duluth)

Rejection, Perseverance, Resistance, and Faith: Four Brief Narratives of Catholic Women’s Religious Orders in the United States


15 February,

2pm GMT

Shannen Dee Williams

(University of Dayton)

Bearing Witness to a Silenced Past: Black Catholic Nuns in the African American Freedom Struggle


8 March,

2pm GMT

Peggy Delmas (University of South Alabama)

The Leadership of Catholic Women Religious in American Secular Institutions of Higher Education


26 April,

3pm BST (GMT+1)

Susana Monreal

(Universidad Católica del Uruguay)

A Long Journey: The Dominican Sisters of Albi in a Transnational and Transcultural Perspective


31 May,

3pm BST (GMT+1)

Ybeth Arias

(Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos)

Feminine Agents of Saint Rose of Lima’s Devotion in Mexico and Lima, 1600-1800


14 June,

3pm BST (GMT+1)


Pablo Acosta-García

(Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Genealogies: Tracing the Genealogy of the Visionary Sermon in Women's Religious Houses



Related Links

History of Catholicism projects

Including projects with the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood

Religious Life Vitality Project

Exploring the vitality and sustainability of women's religious life in the UK and Ireland and East and Central Africa

Religious life vitality

How to stay informed

If you would like to be added to the ISHWRA mailing list, please contact one of the network convenors via email.