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Alternative Title

Religion and spirituality in the politicization of three women activists

Publication Date


First Advisor

Lauren Duncan

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Religion, Spirituality, Activism, Politicized identity development, Virginia Apuzzo, Katsi Cook, Luz Alvarez Martinez, Generations, Narrative analysis, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Sexual orientation, Colonialism, Indigenous Americans, Latinas, Women and religion, Women-Political activity


The psychological literature on religion and spirituality has not previously examined how these two factors relate to the politicization of individuals belonging to marginalized groups. The present study investigated the roles of religion and spirituality in the identity politicization of three women activists of different races/ethnicities and sexual orientations. Theories on politicized identity development, life stage, and intersectionality were integrated and applied in tandem to the three activists’ oral histories. Each oral history was narratively analyzed within this theoretical framework to gain an understanding of how religion and spirituality operated throughout stages of politicization. Across the activists, the Catholic religion functioned as a structure enabling personal experiences with marginalization in early life while also contributing to the beginnings of their politicization. Spirituality was salient in the immersive, transition periods of their politicization; the activists all incorporated spirituality into their political worldviews and

activism. Religion and spirituality overlapped for only two of the activists, whereas the third disengaged from religion and pursued spirituality. The activists employed different strategies to deal with the connection between religion and oppression: negotiation, particularly through reinterpretation or reclamation, or rejection. These differences suggest that other factors may contribute to how marginalized individuals choose to engage with religion and spirituality when undergoing politicization.




90 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 86-90)