Canon Dr Mukti Barton

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I am an Indian Bengali British, who has lived and worked in three countries, India, Bangladesh and Britain. As a scholar in Biblical Studies, using post and decolonial perspectives, I have been teaching, preaching, speaking at conferences and writing for over thirty years, both nationally and internationally. Since these perspectives for Biblical Studies are not easily available in academic institutions, from 1980-1994, I dedicated myself in gaining biblical/theological knowledge through various organisations and applying it to concrete post-colonial contexts. My PhD thesis was the outcome of that. At present I work as a freelancer, but formerly I was the Bishop’s Adviser for Black and Asian Ministries in the Diocese of Birmingham and a Lecturer at The Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education. Currently, I am a Lay Canon of Birmingham Cathedral, a member of the Black Theology Forum and the Asian Women’s Theology Forum and on the Editorial Board of Black Theology: An International Journal.

Qualifications

PhD in Theology & Religious Studies

1998

University of Bristol

BA (hons) in History

1970

University of Calcutta, India

Roles and Responsibilities

Teaching

In India I was a primary and secondary school teacher. 

In Bangladesh I was the Founder Director of an Ecumenical Women's Training Centre for doing theology from women's perspective. Adopting Paulo Freire’s methodology of teaching for conscientization, I taught the Bible there in women’s groups and in other Christian communities for women’s liberation, justice and peace.

For 17 years I taught a variety of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, at the Queen’s Foundation. Black and Asian Theology and Bible and Liberation were the main subjects that I taught at Queen’s as well as in Birmingham Diocese.

I am passionate about scripture, liberation and justice. This passion comes from my own experience of being a woman of colour. After coming to Britain from India, I found myself on the margin of the British society. Initially, the margin seemed a very painful place to be, but eventually, I found that it is also a unique place from which I could view how power dynamics work in society, in the scriptures as well as in the works of the biblical commentators. I have found that when power analysis is incorporated as one of the essential hermeneutical keys for reading the Bible, the scripture is understood in a new way empowering people to work towards God’s reign of justice and peace. 

Church 

Having been raised in the Church of North India, having spent 11 years in the Church of Bangladesh and being the Bishop’s Adviser for Black and Asian Ministries in the Diocese of Birmingham for 12 years, I have gained a wide experience of the global Anglican Communion. Currently I am a Lay Canon of Birmingham Cathedral. 

I am closely connected with the Taize community, and with Black majority churches through the Black Theology Forum. Because of my former roles, I am in touch with many people in churches in the diocese. Instead of taking up high profile roles and responsibilities in the Church of the establishment, I engage myself in the Church on the margin. My work, such as conscientization, empowerment, mentoring and journeying with people who find themselves on the margin of church and society, is largely hidden and low profile. Personally and together with others, I also challenge oppressive theology and practices in churches.

Other

I am bilingual. I have taught theology and published books and articles in both English and Bengali. 

Research Interests and Supervision

My personal experience of racism and sexism in the UK has become political and bound me in solidarity with all fellow sufferers in their local as well as global contexts of oppression. I share the viewpoints of the oppressed of the world who are replacing the traditional by liberational hermeneutics and galvanizing each other to work for justice and peace. I am a liberation hermeneut, passionate about reading the Bible for human liberation from racism, sexism, classism, neo-colonialism, capitalism, militarism, homophobia and all that is destructive. My main research interest is contextual reading of the Bible. Although in many ways the biblical milieu is very different from our contemporary contexts, power dynamics is the common ground. I understand that the more we highlight biblical power issues, the more the scripture sheds light on our contemporary contexts helping us to resist present day oppressive forces.

I have examined several PhD theses and functioned as a chairperson during vivas. 

I have supervised research projects at undergraduate, master's and MPhil levels and co-supervised at PhD level. I would be willing to support research students working on doctoral dissertations in the areas such as:

  • Liberative Hermeneutics.
  • Black and Asian Liberation Theology
  • Black and Asian Women’s Liberation Theology
  • Theology, Ministry and Spirituality in Multicultural Britain
  • Theological Reflection on Colour, Gender, Class and  Other Issues
  • Theology and Power Issues
  • Indian Christianity
  • Indian Christian Spirituality
  • Indian Christian Saints
  • Gender in Different Religions Liberation and Justice in Different Religions
Publications

In progress:

  1. Wrestling with Imperial Christianity: Preaching for Justice and Peace in the world.

Books

  1. Freedom is for Freeing: 12 years’ (1998-2010) work as Bishop’s Adviser for Black & Asian Ministries, Birmingham Diocese, 2010.
  2. Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection: Speaking out on Racism in the Church, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005.
  3. Scripture as Empowerment for Liberation and Justice: The Experience of Christian and Muslim Women in Bangladesh, Bristol: Centre for Comparative Studies in Religion and Gender, University of Bristol, 1999.
  4. Liberation Spirituality as a Signal of Transcendence: Christian and Muslim Women in Bangladesh, Oxford: Religious Experience Research Centre, 1998.
  5. Creation and Fall and the Women of Bangladesh: A Contextual Study, Dhaka: Netritto Proshikkhon Kendro, 1992.

In Bengali:

  1. Sristi, Patan O Banglar Nari, Dhaka: Netritto Proshikkhon Kendro, 1992.

Journal articles and chapters

  1. “Bringing Zipporah out of the shadows”, in New Reflections: Commemorating Two Decades of Feminist Theology at BISFT, Winchester: ITTP (to be published).
  2. "Mukti’s Story”, in Michael Jagessar, ed., Ethnicity: The Inclusive Church Resource, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2015.
  3. “The Kingdom of Heaven, God’s world order”, in The Preacher, Nottingham: The College of Preacher, July 2014.
  4. “An Advent Play”, in Black Theology: An International Journal, vol. 12, no. 1, Leeds: Maney Publishing, 2014.
  5. "Sowing the seeds: Liberation, emancipation and freedom”, in Lizzie_G’s blog, SCM, Feb. 2013.
  6. “Greed brings in destruction”, in The Preacher, Nottingham: The College of Preacher, July 2013.
  7. “Wrestling with imperial patriarchy”, in Feminist Theology, London: Sage Publications, 2012, pp. 7-25.
  8. “Susanna and the Woman Accused of Adultery”, in Rethinking Mission, July 2012.
  9. “Reinterpreting Hagar and the Woman of Samaria in the Context of Bangladeshi Women”, in Rethinking Mission, March 2012.
  10. "The Bible in Black Theology" in Black Theology: An International Journal, London: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2011, pp. 57-76.
  11. "Was Paul an arch-advocate of slavery or a Liberator?" in Anthony Reddie, ed., Black Theology, Slavery and Contemporary Christianity, Surrey & Burlington: Ashgate, 2010, pp. 47-57.
  12. “Reconstructing Colour: I am Black and Beautiful”, in Joshva Raja, et. al., eds., Towards a Reconstruction of Mission Stories: Building Communities of Hope and Peace, Delhi & Birmingham: ISPCK & SOCMS, 2010, pp. 153-176.
  13. “Reflection: The Paradox of Love”, in Heather Wells, ed., Faith Initiative: Embracing Diversity, Issue 23, Lancaster, 2010, pp. 28-29.
  14. "Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights (A Play based on Luke 13:10-17)", In God’s Image, Vol.28, No. 2, Yogyakarta: Asian Women’s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology, 2009, PP. 3-6.
  15. "Gender-Bender God: Masculine or Feminine?" Black Theology: An
  16. "God's upside-down Kingdom, Mark:1:14-20; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31", in The Preacher, London: The College of Preachers, Dec 2008.
  17. "Hermeneutical Insubordination Toppling Worldly Kingdom", in Michael N Jagessar and Anthony G Reddie, Black Theology in Britain: A Reader, Equinox London, Oakville, 2007, pp. 166-174.
  18. "Reflecting on the Story of Ruth" in Michael N Jagessar and Anthony G Reddie, Black Theology in Britain: A Reader, Equinox London, Oakville, 2007, pp. 236-238.
  19. "Colour in the Bible", in Nicola Slee, Words for Today, 2008, Birmingham, IBRA, 2007, pp. 263-269.
  20. “The Skin of Miriam Became as White as Snow: The Bible, Western Feminism and Colour Politics”, in R. S. Sugirtharajah, ed., Voices from the Margin, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006, pp. 158-168.
  21. “Race, Gender, Class and the Theology of Empowerment: An Indian Perspective”, in Ursula King and Tina Beattie, Gender, Religion and Diversity, Cross-Cultural Perspectives, London, New York: Continuum, 2004, (Paperback edition 2005), pp. 225-237.
  22. “I am Black and Beautiful” in Black Theology: An International Journal, vol. 2, no., 2, London, Equinox Publishing Ltd, 2004, pp. 167-187.
  23. “From Victim to Victor: A Black Feminist Re-Reading of Genesis 38” in The Women’s Christian Yearbook 2003, Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2002.
  24. “Becoming Disciples: Readings in Matthew”, in Words for Today Notes for daily Bible reading 2002, Birmingham: The International Bible Reading Association, 2001, 37-41.
  25. “The Christ We Share”, book review, in Viewpoints: Insights into Education and Training in Today’s Church, Issue 8, Spring 2001, 11-12.
  26. “The Skin of Miriam Became as White as Snow: The Bible, Western Feminism and Colour Politics”, in Feminist Theology, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001, pp. 68-80.
  27. “Hermeneutical Insubordination Toppling Worldly Kingdoms”, in Joe Aldred, ed., Sisters with Power, London & New York: Continuum, 2000, pp. 24-35.
  28. “A Bangladeshi Woman’s Decade”, in In God’s Image, Vol. 17. No. 4, 1998.
  29. “Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain and the Bengali Muslim Women’s Movement” in Dialogue & Alliance: A Journal of the International Religious Foundation, vol. 12 - No. 1, New York: Spring/Summer 1998.
  30. “For you are a Woman”, trans., Zeenat Ahmed, in Michele Guinness ed., Tapestry of Voices: Meditations on women’s lives, London: Triangle, SPCK, 1993.
  31. “Woman and Man in Creation”, in Chung, Lee Oo, et. al. eds., Women of Courage: Asian Women Reading the Bible, Seoul: Asian Women’s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology (AWRC), 1992.
  32. “Jesus Christ and the Sexual Exploitation of Women”, in In God’s Image, June 1990.

In Bengali:

  1. “Oi Shuni tar padadhani”, in Francis Bala, ed., Kopot, Dhaka: Bangladesh Church, 1986.