Freitag, 27. Januar 2023

ALMA Reviews Blog: African Feminism in the 21st Century

African Feminism in the 21st Century: A reflection on Uganda’s victories, battles and reversals

By Josephine Ahikire

Published in 2014 in Feminist Africa, Issue 19: Pan-Africanism and Feminism, pp. 7–23.

Available at:

With her feature article in Feminist Africa, Women’s and Gender Studies scholar Josephine Ahikire of Uganda’s Makarere University provides valuable insight into the development of African feminist movements and knowledge production. Using broad categories of “victories and pitfalls” she explains what she considers some key aspects of African Feminism of the last thirty years (also beyond the borders of Uganda, despite the title of the article).

Ahikire, herself a central figure of African Feminism, is the author of Localised or Localising Democracy: Gender and the Politics of Decentralisation in Uganda (2007). She is the former Dean of the School of Women and Gender Studies (est. in 1991) at Makerere University, an Associate at The Nordic Africa Institute and a Member of The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). Last year’s prominent International Conference on Gender Studies in Africa in Kampala was organised by the School of Women and Gender Studies and chaired by Ahikire’s successor as Dean, Sarah Ssali. Overall, Ahikire has many years of theoretical and practical experience in the fields of (pan-/African) feminist theory and practice, cultural studies, gender and politics, and is deeply connected to other central figures and institutions of African Feminism on the continent and beyond.

In her article, Ahikire establishes an unapologetic and direct tone with the opening quote from Accra’s 2006 Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists: “Our feminist identity is not qualified with ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ or ‘howevers’. We are Feminists. Full stop.” (p. 7) She goes on to describe the immanent need to re-evaluate and re-assert the goals and aims of African Feminism in its forward journey through the politics of legitimation over the course of the last 30 years. In doing so she naturally details the achievements and missteps among the goals of African Feminism. Firstly, she finds victories within the field of African-based knowledge production, meaning feminist theories and practices specifically for, about and from African (based) scholars since the 1980s–1990s. She emphasises the relevant recognition of African scholarship vs. critical “conservative” outsiders’ voices, which might be missing crucial insights into the lived experiences of African Feminism. By citing research from Feminist Africa editor-in-chief and well-known Nigerian-British psychologist and feminist Amina Mama, she provides an example of such African (based) Feminist research from the turn of the twenty-first century. Ahikire writes about how Mama’s analyses in 1996 and 2005 revealed the growth and strengthening of a “feminist knowledge by and for Africa” increasingly formulated by African indigenous scholars, in distinction to  Western (feminist) philosophy, theory and methodology. She connects this to formations and developments of institutional spaces in the southern parts of the continent, such as the already mentioned African Gender Institute in Cape Town (and its journal Feminist Africa), The School of Women and Gender Studies in Kampala, as well as CODESRIA (and its globally received book Engendering African Social Sciences, published in 1997). These institutions (and their publications) served as important impulses of feminist scholarship. Thus, on the one hand, Ahikire introduces the reader to key players of (sub-Saharan) African Feminism, and on the other hand, she discusses a crucial aspect of African feminist knowledge production, namely its growing manifestation, legitimation and circulation within academic institutions in Africa. She finally summarises these developments with her assessment of the positive shift in academia (and among the public) from the question of why care about African Feminism to how to care about African Feminism. By this she means, for example, the developing acceptance and even embrace of gender as an analytical category in the social sciences and other disciplines.

From this, Ahikire then elaborates upon the manifestation and institutionalisation of feminism and the general development of the field. While building on examples such as the African Unions Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (“The Protocol was achieved, not given”, p. 12), she reaches a positive conclusion: African Feminism and gender finally seem to be a crucial component of discourses and politics on African development. Ahikire finishes her argument with what she considers to be a very relevant achievement of the many years of negotiations, disruptions and conflicts: the exposure and acquaintance of diverse groups of people (rural, urban, private, political, etc.) to and with feminist concepts and demands today. This means that while Feminism still (or once again) faces serious backlashes and challenges, the concept itself, its demands and ideas, cannot be “taken back” – it seems to be inevitably on the agenda of African politics and peoples.

Ahikire next shifts her focus to one of the “pitfalls” of African Feminism: the controversies that have arisen at the nexus of feminism and the concept of Gender and Development (GAD) theories and practices, which “has brought about a bureaucratic discourse in which development actors can hide without necessarily being accountable to women” (p. 17). By this she refers to GAD projects that originally offered “a handle for feminisms […] to simultaneously speak to the problems of development as well as to its gendered nature” (p. 16), but that over time lost their (original?) feminist force. The inclusion of women in development projects seemed to be efficient and convenient (for investors) rather than an important factor of practical social change or, for that matter, of feminist principles. Furthermore, the author criticises the decline of the concept of gender training. Having risen in the 1980s as a powerful tool to support women in development, gender training ultimately faced a de-politicisation extracted from feminist critique, even producing a diluted idea of gender, in Ahikire’s opinion. She highlights this tension between gender and feminism as she discusses gender activists who would rather not be associated with the “F-word” – a distressing but unfortunately universal phenomenon that is familiar to international feminist scholars.

Feminism and/or gender concepts face challenges not only in (sub-Saharan) Africa but around the world, often becoming an ideological façade and/or tool even appropriated by anti-feminist circles. Rather than accepting sexist or “watered down” language and concepts that take away from the core of feminist critique, Ahikire finally argues for re-politicising and reclaiming feminist thought and its language, clarifying appropriation and resisting the backlash against (African) Feminism, as exemplified in recent sexist legislation.

Overall, Ahikire’s article in Feminist Africa serves as an excellent introduction to the subject of African Feminism, and presents a direct and meticulous contribution to a re-politicisation of “th[is] ideological force that poses fundamental challenges to patriarchal orthodoxies of all kinds” (p. 9). The same applies to the journal itself, a significant platform for contemporary African Feminism of particular interest to international feminist scholars.


Reviewed by: Sophie Klischat


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Foto: ©Cynthia Matonhodze, Harare, Zimbabwe

Dienstag, 17. Januar 2023

Selective Security in the War on Drugs


Selective Security kombiniert kritische politische Ökonomie und dekoloniale Ansätze, um eine Theorie staatlicher Sicherheitspraktiken zu entwickeln, die auf Untersuchungen in Kolumbien und Mexiko basiert. Unterschiedliche soziale Gruppen, die einen differenzierten Zugang zum Staat haben, beeinflussten den staatlichen Diskurs über Kriminalität in sehr unterschiedlichem Maße.

Das Konzept der Kolonialität staatlicher Macht im sogenannten War on Drugs verdeutlicht, wie die Sicherheitsprojekte der 2000er Jahre - als die vom Staat bereitgestellte Sicherheit immer selektiver wurde - in Prozesse der Landaneignung, veränderte Eigentumsverhältnisse und globale Kapitalakkumulation eingebettet waren. Sicherheitspraktiken - die zwischen der verstreuten Organisation durch eine Vielzahl von Akteuren und der Institutionalisierung durch das Militär oszillierten - materialisierten sich als erschreckende Unsicherheit für soziale Gruppen, die als entbehrlich galten.

Dieses Buch is bound to become a fundamental reference for state, Latin American, and violence scholars, schreibt Professor Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín von der Nationalen Universität in Kolumbien.

Zur Website des Verlags.

Bestellen lässt es sich unter anderem hier.

Dienstag, 17. Januar 2023

Selective Security in the War on Drugs


"Selective Security" combines critical political economy and decolonial approaches to build a theory of state security practices, based on research in Colombia and Mexico. Different social groups, enjoying differentiated access to the state, influenced the state discourse on crime to very different extents.

The concept of the coloniality of state power in the so-called war on drugs highlights how the “security projects” of the 2000s—when the security provided by the state became ever more selective— were embedded in processes of land appropriation, transformed property relations, and global capital accumulation. Security practices—which oscillated between dispersed organization by a multiplicity of actors and institutionalization with the military—materialized as horrific insecurity for social groups thought of as disposable.

This book "is bound to become a fundamental reference for state, Latin American, and violence scholars" writes Professor Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín of the National University in Colombia.

Publisher's website.


Dienstag, 10. Januar 2023

Tagung: Dekolonisierung – Postimperiale Perspektiven einer globalisierten Welt

Mit der Aufgabe der Dekolonisierung und dem Fortwirken kolonialer Strukturen in globalen Asymetrien auf wirtschaftlichen und kulturellen Gebieten befasste sich eine Tagung am 22. und 23. Oktober 2022 in der Katholischen Akademie Freiburg. Sie diente der Einübung von kulturellen Perspektivenwechseln, die die postimperialen Perspektiven Afrikas und Osteuropas ins Zentrum stellte.
Hier geht's zur Youtube-Playlist mit allen Videos der Tagung.
Mit dabei, Vorträge von Dr. Mahret Ifeoma Kupka (Kulturwissenschaftlerin, Beirat der Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland), Bartholomäus Grill (Afrika-Korrepondent und Autor »Wir Herrenmenschen«), Prof. Dr. Inès de Castro (Linden-Museum, Stuttgart), Prof. Dr. Götz Aly (Historiker »Das Prachtboot“) und Prof. Dr. Manuela Boatcă (Soziologie, »De/coloniality Now«) wurden ergänzt durch Gespräche mit Dr. Franziska Davies (Historikerin, »Offene Wunden Osteuropas«), Prof. Dr. Albert Guaffo (Literaturwissenschaften, Kamerun), Rebecca Harms (MdEP und Vorsitzende von EURO-NEST), Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler (Politikwissenschaften, Uni Freiburg/ABI), Nataliya Pryhornytska (Politikwissenschaftlerin, Ukraine) und Dr. Heiko Wegmann (Historiker, Gründer »Freiburg Postkolonial«). 
Foto: © Helga Dickow
Dienstag, 20. Dezember 2022

"Es sind verschiedene Energiewenden möglich"

"Es sind verschiedene Energiewenden möglich", sagt Benjamin Schütze im Interview mit Radio Dreyeckland. Abhängigkeiten und Machtgefälle zwischen und in EU und MENA, die beim Umschwung auf erneuerbare Energiequellen gebildet werden, sich verändern oder bestehen bleiben, sind sein Forschungsgegenstand. Zum Nachhören.

Montag, 19. Dezember 2022

Christmas and Winterbreak 2022/23

Das Institut im Schnee

Christmas Break

The ABI/Library will be closed from 23.12.2022 to 08.01.2023.

From 09.01.2023 visits and checkouts are possible as usual.

The ABI wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!