As detailed in the syllabus included on this site, Part One of the course, ‘Theorizing Black and Brown Bodies’ focused on feminist theories of the body, with particular emphasis theorizing race, gender and sexuality as they converge around the black and brown bodies. Part Two of the course, ‘Bodies and Power: Mobilizing the Black Body,’ was structured as a kind of practicum that examined how African activists like Gbowee have transformed the black body and black women’s bodies in particular into crucial vehicles of political power and social transformation.
Nearly 60 students sought to enroll in the course, which, unfortunately, had a maximum enrollment of 28. Class discussions were vibrant and engaging, with some students describing them as ‘transformational’. Students were enthusiastic about the wealth of experience brought to the discussion and the new material she provided in the form of interviews with two generation of urban and rural Liberian women regarding their stories of sexual empowerment. They were equally laudatory about the testimonies of African sex workers collected by the Gbowee Peace Foundation, which served as the focus of one class discussion.
One of the goals of the experimental pedagogy of the class to engage students in conversations among scholars and activists working transnationally on issues of gender justice and sexual and reproductive rights. The aim was to extend course discussions beyond the classroom to include feminists actively involved in these struggles. We sought to do this by asking students to participate in a number of different kinds of public forums. Gbowee arranged for students to attend a session of the UN Conference on Population and Development during the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. In addition, students were also asked to attend the African Women’s Rights and Resilience Symposium, which can be found below.