Skip to main content

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.

Read more

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 2023/24.

Seminars last around 75 minutes. The seminars are being held fully online, except for the 11 October seminar which will be hybrid. Seminar start times shown below are London (UK) time.

All are welcome to attend. 

Please note that details about registration for this online event will be sent out to our mailing lists three weeks in advance of the seminar.
You can sign up for the CCS mailing list to be the first to hear about our upcoming events, or contact for information about specific ISHWRA seminars.

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


11 October,

2pm BST (GMT+1)

Laurence Lux-Sterritt

(Aix-Marseille Université, France)

“Aut Maritus, Aut Murus”: Love, marriage, and the convents


15 November,

2pm GMT

Nilanjana Paul

(University of Texas, USA)

Loreto Nuns and Indian women: a study of curriculum and convents in nineteenth- and twentieth-century colonial India


13 December,

2pm GMT

Brian Heffernan

(KU Leuven, Belgium)

Modern Carmelite Nuns and contemplative identities: shaping spirituality in the Netherlands


31 January,

12pm GMT

Annalaura Turiano

(Université Gustave Eiffel, France)

Italian missionaries in Egypt and Syria (1890 – 1940): gender, education and the making of an informal empire


21 February,

2pm GMT

James Kelly

(Durham University)


John McCafferty

(University College Dublin, Ireland)

Female religious in the Oxford History of British and Irish Catholicism, c. 1530 to the present day


13 March,

12pm GMT

Giacomo Ghedini

(Sciences Po Paris, France) 

From slaves to nuns: stories of Afro-European women in the nineteenth century


3 April,

2pm BST (GMT+1)

Kathleen Sprows Cummings

(University of Notre Dame, USA)

Questing: vocation and the transnational migration of Catholic Sisters (19th c.)


17 April,

12pm BST (GMT+1)

Anne Jusseaume

(Université d'Artois, France)

The care of the poor: female vocation in nineteenth-century Paris


15 May,

11am BST (GMT+1)


Julie Hotchin

(Australian National University, Australia)

Negotiating female abbatial authority in late medieval Germany



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.