Feminist Africa: Putting Africa’s feminist thinking on the intellectual map

African-FeminismSince Our Africa was launched on open Democracy 5050 in 2011 it has worked to bring an informed, rich set of Africa’s feminist voices to the ears of global audiences. The Our Africa platform has commissioned and published up-to-date assessments of the uprisings and growing protests movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Sudan and their implications from a feminist perspective, activist analyses of the Muslim fundamentalist takeover of northern Mali and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and what Nelson Mandela’s passing signalled for South African feminists.
Our Africa has featured writing by authors including Liberian Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, Algerian law professor Karima Bennoune, and a rising star of African feminist poetry, Somali Kenyan Warsan Shire. With articles in English, French and Arabic, Our Africa has also expanded the range of African voices heard in global media, keeping the debate relevant through topical analysis of the issues that matter for African women’s rights- the direction of African regional politics, rising militarism, land grabbing, food security, Christian fundamentalisms, women’s digital agencysafe abortion and bodily autonomy in the era of HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, Our Africa is taking its featured analysis and author’s list deeper still, through a collaboration with Africa’s leading gender studies journal, Feminist Africa. Published since 2002 by the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, Feminist Africa is the first continent-wide, peer-reviewed scholarly platform for “progressive, cutting-edge gender research and feminist dialogue.” At a time when “gender” has become an increasingly depoliticized buzzword within the neoliberal development industry, and as “women’s empowerment” is being reduced to an economic good, the journal remains committed to an explicitly feminist and resolutely political-intellectual stance. Sustained by the growing community of feminist thinkers and activists all over Africa, Feminist Africa provides an autonomous space for exploring deep questions of political, social and cultural transformation. It is animated by a pan-African ethos, seeking to include women and themes from all corners of the continent, to build community and points of solidarity across differences. The journal provides a teaching and learning resource for students, scholars and practitioners in Africa and beyond. Free, online and open-access since inception, Feminist Africa’s relative accessibility is particularly important for readers on the continent who have to contend with depleted libraries and limited access to scholarly resources.

‘Intellectual politics’ was quite aptly the theme of the first ever issue of Feminist Africa. The question of ‘who knows’ is deeply political: who can claim or even try to know, speak or write, and for or on behalf of whom. There is a long and robust tradition of feminist thinking in the African academy, in political, policy and activist arenas, and in everyday life on the continent, however, even if at times called by other names or by no name at all. The fact is that African women have always reflected critically on the conditions of their existence and on how to change or resist these conditions as needed. As Amina Mama, founding editor of Feminist Africa, puts it in her inaugural editorial for the journal, “intellectual activism… has always been as intrinsic to feminism in Africa as to feminisms anywhere else.” Still, perhaps more than ever before, Africa needs its feminist intellectual activism. Rapacious capitalism, poverty and growing inequality, war and militarism, violence against women, homophobia, ethnic prejudice, religious fundamentalisms, and environmental degradation are all pressing issues in Africa and indeed the world today. African feminists have vital intellectual contributions to make to the world at large and to transnational political and social justice agendas in particular. They also have much to say about resistance, creativity, hope, play and love; about the possibility of a world not only different but better.

Over the course of the year, Our Africa will be republishing abridged versions of select editorials and feature articles, personal standpoint pieces and interview conversations from the 18 issues of Feminist Africa published thus far. The series is co-edited by Jessica Horn, Commissioning Editor for Our Africa, and Simidele Dosekun on behalf of Feminist Africa. We will be covering themes as diverse as the politics of African women’s engagement with online spaces and digital technologies; film and feminism in Africa; the gendered institutional culture of African universities; and legal feminisms and activism on the continent. Feminist Africa articles published here on Our Africa will be linked back to their original source, as well as to related sites. We encourage readers to follow the links, engage directly with the journal and get involved in the discussions.

Read the first article in this new series : African cyberfeminism in the 21st century
By: Jessica Horn and Simidele Dosekun

March 3, 2014

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