Dr. Mary Nyangweso


Director, Religious Studies Program
Associate Professor & J. Woolard and Helen Peel Distinguished Professor

325A Austin Building
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Phone: 252-737-2422
Fax: 252-328-6301
E-Mail: wangilam@ecu.edu
Mailing Address:
A-327 Brewster Building
Religious studies Program
East Carolina University
Greenville NC 27858
LaShonda Brown - (252) 328-6193
Theresa Phillips - (252) 328-6120

Dr. Mary Nyangweso is the J. Woolard and Helen Peel distinguished professor in Religious Studies at East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina).

She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in the Sociology of Religion (PhD) at Drew University. She also received her Bachelors in Education at Kenyatta University, Nairobi Kenya; Masters in Philosophy (Religion) at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya; Masters in Theology at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Nyangweso's specialty is religion and gender based violence and human rights. She examines gender based issues from African, Christian and Islamic perspectives. She has published extensively on matters related to domestic violence, female genital cutting and HIV/AIDS. She is author of two books; Female

Genital Cutting: Mutilation or Cultural Right? (Praeger, 2014) and Female Circumcision: the Interplay between Religion, Gender and Culture in Kenya (Orbis, 2007). She has also authored several peer review journal articles and book chapters on religion and on women in Africa. She is also a human rights activist advocating for gender related rights. She has received many other honors including a Fulbright Award. 

Courses Taught

Introduction to Religion; Methods in Religious Studies; Women and Religion; Religion and Sexuality; World Religions; Classical Islam, Religions of Africa, Religion and Social Issues; Indigenous Religions.

Recent Publication


  • Female Genital Cutting in Industrialized Countries: Mutilation or Cultural Tradition? ABC Clio Praeger, 2014.
  • Female Circumcision: The Interplay between Religion, Gender and Culture in Kenya, Orbis Books, 2007.

Journal Articles

  • “Intersectionality, Education and Advocacy against Sexual Violence” Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion, 2017, 33:1, 180-182
  • “Religion, Cultural and Human Rights: Challenges Women Face in the 21st Century.” Journal of Religion and Violence Vol. 4(1), 2016, 39-57.
  •  “What Should Industrialized Countries do to protect the Rights of Immigrant Women? Governments Should Extend Basic Human Rights to Migrant Women and Their Families regardless of Legal Status,” Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society, ABC-CLIO, 2. http://issues2.abc-clio.com/.
  • “Negotiating Agency and Human Rights in Islam: A Case of Muslim Women in Kenya,” Contemporary Islamic Studies, Vol. 1, February, 2012, 1-15.
  • “Christianity and Social Justice for the Kenyan Woman: A Hermeneutical Reflexive Enterprise,” Theologies and Cultures: Theology Out of the Context, Vol. 8, (2), December, 2011, 60-87.
  • "At the Crossroads of Gender, Religion and Academia: Challenges of Black Women" JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies, Issue 19, December, 2011, 44-58.
  • “Religion, the African Concept of the Individual and Human Rights Discourse: An Analysis,” Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 9 (3), 2010, 326-343.
  • “Contextualizing Theology and Gender Reconstruction in Kenya,” Theologies and Cultures: Theology Out of the Context, Vol. V1, (2), December, 2009, 110 -133.
  • “Beyond Facts to Realities: Confronting Realities of Women in ‘Female Circumcision’ Communities,” Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 6, (4), 2007, 393-413.
  • “Christ’s Salvific Message and the Nandi Ritual of Female Circumcision,” Theological Studies, Vol. 63, (3), September 2002, 579-600.
  • “Transformations of Care for the Aged among Africans: A Study of the Kenyan Situation,” Aging and Mental Health, Vol. 2, (3), August 1998, 181-185, also published as proceedings in Gerontechnology: A Sustainable Investment in the Future, Technology Informatics 48, eds. J Graafans, V. Taipala, and N. Charness, IOS Press, 1998, 450-455.
  • “The Role of Traditional Doctors in Modern Health Sciences,” African Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 2. (2), 1995.

Book Chapters

  • “Religion After the Medical Miracle: Recovering “Disability” as Religious Analytic of Social Suffering,” Disability in the Global South: The Critical Handbook, co-authored with Sharon V. Betcher, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2016, 117-132
  • “African Traditional Religions,” Understanding the Religions of the World, Pearson, 2015
  • “Is Cultural Diversity Endangering Women’s Rights?” Politics, Governance and Development in Africa: Retrospection in Fifty Years of Self Rule, edited by Maurice Amutabi, Nairobi: Research, The Catholic University is East Africa, 2013, 37-52.
  • “Western Ideology and the Sexuality of the African Woman: Engaging Dualistic Thinking in Attitudes to African Women’s Sexuality,” Women, Gender and Sexualities in Africa, edited by Toyin Falola and Nana Akua Amposa, Carolina Academic Press, 2012, 101-120.
  • “Foreword,” Beyond Women’s Emancipation in Africa, Elinami Swai, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, ix-xi.
  • “Female Circumcision in a World Perspective,” World History Encyclopedia, eds. Alfred J. Andrea, Kevin McGeough, William E Mierse and Fred Nadis,  ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, 2011. 
  • “Religion and the Rights of African Women in the Age of HIV/AIDS: Illustrations from Kenya,” Strong Women, Dangerous Times: Gender and HIV/AIDS in Africa, edited by Ezekiel Kalipeni, & Cynthia Pope, Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 237-252.
  • “African Women in Traditional Religions: Illustrations from Kenya,” Women and Religion: New and Afro-Religions, edited by Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, Darnise C. Martin, Oyeronke Olademo, Santa Barbara, California, Praegar, 2009, 301-322.
  • “Religion, Women and Economic Growth in Kenya,” Studies in the Economic History of Kenya: Land, Water, Railways, Education and Entrepreneurship, edited by Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi, Edwin Mellen Press, 2009, 195-224.
  • “Women and Democracy in Kenya,” Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Democracy, edited by Ogot Bethwell, Kisumu: Maseno University College, 1997, 157-166.

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For more information, please contact the Program Director:

Dr. Mary Nyangweso
(252) 737-2422