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Transnational Challenges: Reflecting on Local Feminism and the Development of Africa

When Oct 30, 2006
from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library
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AMINA MAMA

 

Chair in Gender Studies, African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town

Amina Mama is Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Psychology from the University of London. Her research has addressed gender, state and politics in various African contexts, women's organizations and movements, racial oppression and theorizing subjectivity. Main publications includeBeyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity (Routledge 1995, listed as one of Africa’s 100 Best Books in the twentieth century), The Hidden Struggle: Statutory and Voluntary Sector Responses to Violence Against Black Women in the Home (Whiting and Birch 1996),Women’s Studies and Studies of Women in Africa (CODESRIA Green Book, 1996), andEngendering African Social Sciences (co-edited, CODESRIA 1997). She has contributed regularly to edited volumes and academic journals over the years. Amina currently serves on the boards of directors for the United Nations Institute for Research on Social Development and the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana, and chairs the Global Fund for Women’s Board of Directors. In 2006 she was appointed to the Women’s Advisory Committee of the African Union. She is founding editor of the African journal of gender studies, Feminist Africa, and serves on the editorial advisory boards of a range of other academic publications including Signs, Meridians, International Feminist Journal of PoliticsInternational Journal of Critical Psychology,and Journal of Higher Education in Africa. Current research interests are in the field of feminist methodology, sexuality, militarism and politics, and higher education.

Transnational Challenges: Reflecting on Local Feminism and the Development of Africa

Women’s movements around the world face new challenges as the new global order threatens hard won gains of the twentieth century, and the African continent is notoriously regarded as the most underdeveloped region of the world.

This presentation argues that it is African women’s positioning at the receiving end of global politics and policies which fosters their critical engagement with the global politics that have given rise to the development and underdevelopment of Africa. The historical record points to a long legacy of educational, economic, political and military struggles against colonial rule, gender blind approaches to national development and local patriarchal cultures. Women therefore struggled for inclusion in the structures of power and policy attention with a degree of success, even while unequal gender relations have persisted, complicated by locally-manifest differentiations of class and social status.

It explores the manner in which ostensibly local women’s movements in African have mobilized to resist the human costs of underdevelopment. It is argued that their activism and the ethical and analytic perspectives that give rise to it are rooted in their critical engagement with global forces. Mobilizations of women in Africa are becoming increasingly sophisticated, suggesting the emergence of more critical feminist politics that is both transnational and transformative. The emergence of transnational feminism in Africa is discussed through particular examples.