Josephine's journey: gender-based violence and Marian devotion in urban Papua New Guinea

Anna-Karina Hermkens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This article deals with how, in the urban setting of Madang, Papua New Guinea, Marian devotion is deployed in response to domestic and gender-based violence. While providing insight into the lived religious experiences of Catholic women living in Madang, this article shows how Mary empowers her followers to resist violence, yet, at the same time, paradoxically, is instrumental in sanctioning women to tolerate violence. Josephine's 'journey of violence' reveals not only Josephine's turning to Mary, but more so, her negotiations with values belonging to different cultural logics. Caught between 'tradition', Christianity and 'modernity', Josephine and other Catholic women engage in painful processes of self-analysis and self-transformation to adapt to and change their situation. In these processes, Mary is used as a role model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-167
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Christianity
  • Marian devotion
  • domestic violence
  • modernity
  • Papua New Guinea


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