Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005 - Social Science - 288 pages
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Heated debates about and insurgencies against female circumcision are symptoms of a disease emanating from a mindset that produced hierarchies of humans, conquered colonies, and built empires. The loss of colonies and empires does not in any way mitigate the ideological underpinnings of empire-building and the knowledge construction that subtends it. The mindset finds its articulation at points of coalescence. Female circumcision provided a point of coalescence and impetus for this articulation. Insisting that the hierarchy on which the imperialist project rests is not bipolar but multi-layered and more complex, the contributions in this volume demonstrate how imperialist discourses complicate issues of gender, race, and history. Nnaemeka gives voice to the silenced and marginalized, and creates space for them to participate in knowledge construction and theory making.

The authors in this volume trace the travels of imperial and colonial discourses from antecedents in anthropology, travel writings, and missionary discourse, to modern configurations in films, literature, and popular culture. The contributors interrogate foreign, or Western, modus operandi and interventions in the so-called Third World and show how the resistance they generate can impede development work and undermine the true collaboration and partnership necessary to promote a transnational feminist agenda. With great clarity and in simple, accessible language, the contributors present complex ideas and arguments which hold significant implications for transnational feminism and development.

 

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Contents

African Women and Transnational Feminisms
3
CULTURES SEXUALITIES AND KNOWLEDGE
19
Imperialism and Sex in Africa
21
Female Circumcision as Impetus
27
Writing Gender Constructing Knowledge
47
BODIES THAT DONT MATTER
79
Our Bodies Ourselves?
81
The Limits of Universalism and the Legal Debate around Excision in France
97
Imperial Fictions African Femininity and Representation
135
Confronting the Western Gaze
165
TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST CONTENTIONS SISTERHOOD AND COALITION POLITICS REVISTED
181
The AntiFemale Circumcision Campaign Deficit
183
The Female Circumcision Debate and the Politics of Knowledge
209
Alice Walkers Sisterhood and the Key to Dreams
219
Building Egalitarian Multicultural Womens Coalitions
245
INDEX
275

Western Feminism Race and Representation in Female Circumcision Discourse
111
IMPERIAL GAZE AND FICTIONS
133
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
285
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About the author (2005)

Obioma Nnaemeka is Professor of French, Women's Studies, and African/African Diaspora Studies and Director of the Women's Studies Program at Indiana University, Indianapolis. She is also the President of the Association of African Women Scholars. Professor Nnaemeka has published extensively on literature, women's/gender studies, development, and African/African Diaspora studies.

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