SWOPE Endowed Lectureship: Rita Nakashima Brock

Dr. Rita Nakashima BrockDr. Rita Nakashima Brock, a leading scholar in the field of women's studies and feminist theology, is the 10th director of the Bunting Fellowship Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the nation's premier multidisciplinary center of advanced studies for scholars, writers, artists, and activists.

Professor Brock's book, Journeys By Heart: A Christology of Erotic Power won the 1988 Crossroad/Continuum Press Award for the most outstanding manuscript in women's studies. Her keynote lecture for the 1993 ecumenical women's conference, "Re-imagining," won the 1994 Associated Religious Press Award for excellence in theological reflection. Dr. Brock has also published a number of essays and sermons on feminist theology and Asian American women. She is a coeditor and contributing author of Setting the Table: Women in Theological Conversation, a collection of essays introducing feminist theology, and is coauthor with Susan Thistlethwaite of Casting Stones: Understanding Prositution in Asia and the United States. Casting Stones won first place in the 1997 Catholic Press Awards for gender studies and was excerpted in the Spring 1996 edition of On the Issues, a feminist magazine.

Casting Stones reflects Dr. Brock's ongoing interest in international women's issues, which included being a member of the United States delegation in 1975 to the International Tribune on Crimes Against Women in Brussels. Active both in the academy and the community, she is an elected member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians, an organization of theologians dedicated to global justice. Professor Brock was a founding member of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), chaired the committee for three years, and served on the AAR Board of Directors. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.

Born in Fukoka, Japan, to a Japanese mother and a US soldier, Dr. Brock came to the United States at the age of six. She discovered in 1983 that she had a Puerto Rican birth father and a large extended family in San Juan. Beginning in college, she has been active in community organizations working against racism and sexism. Since 1985, she has taken a number of research and lecturing trips to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. She was selected by the National Council of Churches in 1993 to represent them on a high-level international delegation for peace which involved conversations with heads of state, church groups, and representatives from revolutionary movements in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Dr. Brock held an endowed chair in humanities at Hamline University at St. Paul from 1990 to 1997, where she was also director of the humanities program. She directed the women's studies program at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, from 1985 to 1989. Dr. Brock has taught in the religion departments of Chapman University, Scripps College, Jarvis Christian College, Valparaiso University, and Pacific Lutheran University. She has lectured on feminist theology in such places as Princeton Theological Seminary, Yale University Divinity School, the University of Chicago Divinity School, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Drew University Theological School, Northwestern University, and Harvard Divinity School and taught seminars in many churches and seminaries around North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. In 1991, she delivered the Centennial Baccalaureate Sermon at Stanford University. Since 1992, she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California.

Dr. Brock was the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from 1995 to 1997. She was the first Chair of the newly constituted Common Global Ministries Board of the Disciples and the United Church of Christ and is a founding member of the Christian Church Forrest-Moss Institute, an association of women scholars that began in 1992. She also served the Christian Church as a member of the General Board and Administrative Committee and as president of the Disciples Peace Fellowship.

She earned her bachelor of arts in religion from Chapman University and masters of religion in practical theology from the School of Theology at Claremont. In receiving her master of arts and doctorate in philosophy of religion and theology from the Claremont Graduate School, she became the first Asian American woman in the United States to do so. During her graduate studies, she worked on an archives research project compiling the private papers of philosopher Charles Hartshorne and edited his autobiography. She has also studied theology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and has studied the ecumenical movement at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Institute in Celigny, Switzerland.