African Women’s Rights and Resilience

Course Description Course Materials Student Reflections Videos Related Events Collective Bibliography Co-Sponsors

Course Description

African Women’s Rights and Resilience
Tina Campt and Leymah Gbowee, Instructors

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.

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Course Materials

Student Reflections

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African Women’s Rights and Resilience
Introductory remarks by Leymah Gbowee, Tina Campt, and Deborah Spar

Women’s Rights and Transnational Feminisms
A panel discussion featuring Abigail Disney, Amina Mama, Sylvia Tamale, and Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, moderated and introduced by Tina Campt

Intergenerational Organizing
Panel discussion featuring Simidele Dosekun, Spectra, Hakima Abbas, and Leymah Gbowee, moderated by Jimmy Briggs and introduced by Kathryn Kolbert

African Men and Feminisms
Panel discussion Samuel B. Doe, Kennedy Odede, and Mohamed Yahya, moderated by Abena Busia and introduced by Janet Jakobsen

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Related Events

African Women’s Rights and Resilience: A Symposium – 3/12/14

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Collective Bibliography

  • “African Women’s Rights & Resilience.” Barnard College, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
  • Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands, La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987. Print.
  • Barnes, LaShanette and Bruno, Peter J. “Feminist Theory Colloquium Glossary.” New York. 14 Mar. 2014. Assignment.
  • Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. Routledge: New York and London, 1993.
  • Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Demariginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” The University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989: Feminism in the Law: Theory, Practice and Criticism. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1989. 139-67. Print.
  • Fields, Barbara. “What One Cannot Remember Mistakenly.” History + Memory in African American Culture. Genevieve Fabre and Robert O’Meally, eds. Oxford: New York, 1994.
  • Gbowee, Leymah. Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War. New York: Beast Books, 2011.
  • Grosz, Elizabeth. “Bodies and Knowledges: Feminism and the Crisis of Reason.” Feminist Epistemologies. New York: Routledge, 1993. N. pag. Print.
  • Hammonds, Evelyn. “Black (W)holes and the Geometry of Black Female Sexuality.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 1994.
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Gini Reticker. Balcony Releasing (US), 2008. Online.
  • Rubins, Gayle. “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” Toward and Anthropology of Women. Rayna R. Reiter, ed. New York/London: Monthly Review Press, 1975.
  • Spillers, Hortense. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics, Vol. 17, No. 2, Culture and Countermemory: The “American” Connection. (Summer, 1987), pp. 64-81.

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