Finding Africa seminar – African Feminisms seminar series 2017
Postcolonial afterlives and the gendering of empire: A Franco-African Experience
Thursday 4 May, 5pm, Leeds Humanities Research Institute Seminar Room 1
This paper draws on evidence from the former French African Empire to argue that the struggle to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls in the former French African colonies has travelled a circuitous, even circular, path between the late 19th and the early 21st centuries, and that these regions are still confronting obstacles laid down a century ago. Starting from an understanding of the structures on which differentiation on the grounds of gender were embedded in the French imperial project, the paper moves on to the interwar period to highlight a uniquely radical moment in French colonial gender policy in Africa inspired by the coming to power of the French Popular front. When the regime fell on the eve of World War 2, the policy were buried. The paper compares the aspirations of a pre-war colonial regime with a postcolonial international development agenda and asks the question where has ‘progress’ been made? The paper draws on new data on the 2030 sustainable development goals for gender from countries in west and central Africa which self-define as ‘francophone’, and from previously published work by notably Globalizing the Postcolony (Lexington 2011) which focuses on the millennium development goals in these countries La Famille en AOF: Condition de la femme (Harmattan, 2007), which explores the aspirations of the Popular front government’s gender policy for Africa in the 1930s.
About Claire Griffiths
Claire Griffiths’ research in and on Francophone Africa during the postcolonial era began in Morocco where her work focused on political definitions and policy responses to development in relation to gender. Over the course of the next decade she completed several periods of research and writing in Senegal, Gabon, among other former French colonies in North and West Africa, while teaching in the French Department and researching at the WISE institute for the study of slavery and emancipation at the University of Hull. She moved from Hull to Chester in 2009, where she served as head of Modern Languages for six years before taking on her present role as university chair in area studies. She is the author of Globalizing the Postcolony: contesting discourses of development and gender in Francophone Africa (Lexington Books 2011) and a number of books and articles in French and English on aspects of colonial and postcolonial politics, culture, discourse and gender policy in the French-speaking areas of Africa. Her most recent project, Challenging Discourses of Development is focusing on cultural responses in and from francophone Africa to the challenges confronting postcolonial nations in this region of the world.
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