Global Feminism

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS2028324

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Rachna Chaudhary

Email of course coordinator: rachna[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Students should be registered for MA Gender Studies

Course Objectives/Description:

The course asks the question, is there global feminism? The multiple images that form at the invocation of the word include, among others, seeing it as an idea for the purpose of representation, a movement, with representational logic as well as embodied practices. The possibility of it being both is also not unimaginable. What does it represent and to whom and to what effect? It will attempt to understand the unintended/intended effects of the global on the local/national/regional feminisms and the relationship between these strands.

The course traces some of the important moments in the making of “global feminism” as a category – the radical feminist moment of the 70s USA, where a feminist like Robin Morgan came up with the slogan, “sisterhood is global” and the U.N. development decades of the 60s and 70s which “added” women globally into development goals for the globe. The “global” of the former moment emerges from a theorization of patriarchy as universal. The developmental moment, on the other hand, imagines individual nation states as responsible for the “improvement” of their respective subjects and therefore, the logic of adding up national state driven initiatives for women adding up to form the entity called global feminism.

The idea of global is being continuously critiqued for producing a universal understanding of feminism, assuming homogeneity and producing a universal idea of its subject of this feminism, the universal woman, who needs to be uplifted, empowered, „made‟ independent. The paradigm of development then becomes a mode of legitimizing Western intervention in „empowering‟ women of the Third World. The importance of solidarity and advocacy is important, but the positions of power inherent are also to be recognized. 2

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify key issues coalesced around global feminism.
  2. Demonstrate ability to engage with different aspects of feminist movements all over the globe.
  3. Learn to understand the linkages between the global and local.
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of critical skills required to read a range of texts
  5. Capability to build a sharp focus of how issues get formed into a movement and how feminist movements are also sites of knowledge..

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Making of Global Feminism: The “Second Wave” Moment in the West was important in shifting the liberal emphasis of women‟s movements across the world. The second wave was that of radical feminism and this module engages students with the ideas of radical moment of global feminism as they originated in the West and its implication for non-western contexts.
  2. Global Women’s Movement: This module focuses on the development debates which have been very significant in shaping the thrust and agenda of women‟s movements. Making of “Third world” Feminism
  3. Universalism/Feminism: This module takes up the contemporary debates and takes up the binary of universalism and feminism and engages students with the necessity of universalisms as well as its vicissitudes. The universalizing impulse of feminism has been thoroughly critiqued by non-western worlds and these debates have borne rich results.
  4. Globalizing difference: This is a very important part of feminist journey. The module exposes students to the central significance of difference as having implications epistemologically.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • 1st assessment 40%
  • 2nd assessment 40%
  • Attendance and class participation 20%

Reading List:

  • Morgan, Robin. “Planetary Feminism: The Politics of the 21st Century.” In Sisterhood is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology. New York: The Feminist Press, 1989. pp: 1-38.
  • Bell Hooks. “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity between Women.” Feminist Review, No. 23, (Summer, 1986), pp. 125-138.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, Chapter 13 (“Folly which the ignorance of women generates”), A Vindication of the Rights of Woman(1792).
  • The Bostonians or Iron Jawed Angels - Films, both available on Youtube
  • Sojourner Truth. “Ain‟t I a Woman? Women‟s Convention, Akron, Ohio, 28-29. May 1851.
  • Goldman, Emma. The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation Luxemburg, Rosa.“Women‟s Suffrage and Class Struggle.”
  • Leila Rupp and Verta Taylor, „Forging Feminist Identity in an International Movement: A Collective Identity Approach to Twentieth-Century Feminism‟, Signs, 1999.
  • Kollontai, Alexandra. “Communism and the Family.” 1920
  • Zetkin, Clara. “Only in Conjunction With the Proletarian Woman Will Socialism Be Victorious.” (1896)
  • Ghodsee , Kristen. “Red Nostalgia?Communism, Women‟s Emancipation, and Economic Transformation in Bulgaria.”L‟Homme Z. F. G. 15, 1 (2004).pp: 21-36.
  • Antrobus, Peggy. The Global Women’s Movement: Origin, Issues, Strategies.” Bangalore: Books for Change, 2004.
  • Walby, Sylvia. “Feminism in a Global Era.” Economy and Society Volume 31 Number 4 November 2002: 533–557.
  • Rathgeber, Eva M. “WID, WAD, GAD: Trends in Research and Practice.” The Journal of Developing Areas, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Jul., 1990), pp. 489-502.
  • Escobar, Arturo. “Power and Visibility: Tales of Peasants, Women, and the Environment.” Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. 154-211.
  • Saunders, KriemildFeminist Post-Development Thought: Rethinking Modernity, Post-Colonialism, and Representation . New York: The Feminist Press, 2002.
  • Gibson-Graham ,J. K. . A PostcapitalistPolitics . University of Minnesota Press, 2006 (Selections)
  • Ong, Aihwa. Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia.
  • Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987. Pp: p xiii_p 10.
  • Mohanty , Chandra Talpade. Under Western Eyes.(Excerpts).
  • Narayan, Uma. Dislocating Cultures.(Excerpts).
  • John, Mary. Discrepant Dislocations.(Excerpts).
  • Jayawardena, Kumari;.Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World.Zed Books, 1986.(Excerpts).
  • SabaMahmood, Introduction Politics of Piety [selections] -
  • Benhabib in Feminist Contentions – Feminist problem with postmodernism
  • Nancy Fraser, “Feminism, Capitalism, and the Cunning of History”
  • PanditaRamabai, “The Condition of Women”, in The Peoples of the United States, in MeeraKosambi, ed. and trans., PanditaRamabai’s American Encounter (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2003). –
  • Susan Moller Okin, „Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?‟
  • Kimberle Crenshaw, „Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence against Women‟, Stanford Law Review.