Vilja Alanko

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Vilja Alanko is a doctoral student at the faculty of theology and in the multidisciplinary doctoral programme Gender, Culture and Society for which she also has served as a board member. In relation to her doctoral studies, she is participating in the Nordic Network for the Study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as the international network Feminist Readings. Alanko is employed in the academy project Lived Scriptures, and previously she has been employed in the academy project Embodied Religion and affiliated as a member in the CoE in Reason and Religious Recognition

Alanko's research project, titled 'Stories of Feminine Becoming: Mothers and Daughters in Early Christian Hagiography', examines the relationships of mothers and daughters in three early Christian hagiographies from second through seventh centuries – the Acts of (Paul and) Thecla, the Life of Macrina, and the Life of Mary of Egypt. These selected accounts provide three different representations of a holy woman, while they all both include elements of gender ambivalence and manifest a strong sense of agency attributed to their protagonists. On this reading, the presence of mothers and daughters in hagiographical narratives, regardless of whether their bond is biological, adoptive, or divine, is the starting point for the analysis feminine subjectification and relationality.

Theoretically, this study builds on Luce Irigaray’s thought that emphasizes the significance of feminine genealogies and especially maternal relations for feminine subjectivity. Alanko's work thus further joins the study of early Christian asceticism and its impact on notions of gender and sexuality.

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology