African Women and their Networks of Support: Intervening Connections is an interdisciplinary analysis of how African women, in their different cultural, social, and political spaces, find innovative strategies to address the challenge they face and voice their often-underrepresented perspectives. These actions are often molded in either formal or informal networks of support that provide women with the necessary peer-based foundation to deal with gender discrimination, violence, and subjugation. On other occasions, women’s strategies toward change are driven by specific individuals who set the transformative agenda and trajectory toward social change. Contributors label these efforts as intervening connections, representing women's intentional actions to circumvent, disrupt, question, and ultimately rearrange structures of gender discrimination. Respective chapters capture networks that are historic and current; real, virtual, and imagined; local and transnational, and managed by women on the continent as well as in the diaspora. Considering these diverse spaces in which networking happens, contributors underscore not only how African women aim at deconstructing current systemic gender inequalities, but also how they are developing futures of gender equity and equality.
Elene Cloete is Director of Research and Advocacy for Outreach International.
Martha N. Bannikov is a PhD candidate in comparative literature at the University of Oregon.
Mariah C. Stember is a PhD candidate in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas.
Introduction: Intervening Connections: Below the Sightline
Elene Cloete, Martha Ndakalako-Bannikov and Mariah C. Stember
Chapter 1: Sama Jigéen: Women and Women-Led Associations in a New Era of Politics in Dakar, Senegal
Emily Jenan Riley
Chapter 2: “Anything that Departs from Justice to Injustice is not Part of the Shari’a:” Women’s Rights Activism and Islamic Legal Reform in Zanzibar
Chapter 3: “Instant Interventioning”: Digital Networks, Visibility, and Support against Gender-Based Violence in South Africa
Chapter 4: “All This Drama”: Intervening Narratives and Precarious Performances in the Namibian Online Fictional Diary The Dream of a Kwanyama Girl
Chapter 5: Caribbean Women Writers: Forging a New Frontier in the Regional Literary Tradition
Chapter 6: Networks of Collective Memory: Women’s Narratives of Injustice in Northern Kenya
Chapter 7: Revisiting Token Resistance and its Effect on the Perpetuation of Rape Culture
Chapter 8: “The Revolution is in the Everyday”: Women in the Namibian Liberation Movement
Mariah C. Stember
Chapter 9: “Finding Home”: Displaced African Women in Rural Southwest Kansas
Debra J.H. Bolton
Conclusion: Future Interventions, Persistent Networks
About the Contributors
This timely collection brings to the forefront how support networks in various shapes and forms are crucial for women's activism in Africa and its diaspora. It speaks to issues of global importance while firmly grounded in the African continent.
The contributors to this volume not only analyze the diverse ways African women network for change, but also work to identify and deconstruct the embedded problems that necessitated these interventions in the first place. The collection examines African women’s interventions in arenas as diverse as financial markets, Islamic legal cases, and gendered sexual codes, employing media as varied as online platforms, written literary genres, and international solidarity networks. Finally, the editors and authors speak to the timely need to thread the needle between articulating differences and recognizing commonalities in women’s experiences, as well as seeking the kinds of connectivity that bolster genuine solidarity with the most vulnerable.
Presenting an array of chapters from different countries from Africa and the Caribbean (as well as one on displaced African women in Kansas), African Women and their Networks of Support: Intervening Connections uniquely fills the void of feminist scholarship on networks and associations which strengthen both ordinary and extraordinary women of Africa. The major themes covered in the book contribute to a greater understanding of women’s position in the countries represented and clearly delineate them as strong, courageous, and taking agency, and the book dismantles the stereotype of women being victims of socio-economic, cultural, and conventional norms. The book draws the reader into issues that cross disciplinary, methodological, and national traditions while at the same time exploring the historic origins of current controversies. The variety of perspectives attest to the fact that feminist scholarship is a patchwork quilt stitched together in a template which speaks to feminist ideology.
A fascinating and innovative book, recommended for the general reader as well as academics and students in the fields of gender, politics, history, and literature.