Gendered Violence at the Identitarian Margins of Liberal Democracy in Africa

Event time: 
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 12:00pm
WLH 309 See map
100 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 
The possibility of pursuing feminist emancipatory politics within liberal democracy remains a much-touted possibility in feminist scholarship. Yet the valorization of multiparty politics as a means of containing violence and stabilizing political contestation has not been borne out by experience in a number of African countries. In those contexts, the increase in 
violence/gendered violence attached to politics lends multipartyism a particular paradox: an apparent consensus between normative freedom and violence. For feminists struggling to make sense of violence amidst democratization, the contemporary predicaments are twofold: firstly, that popular democracy inaugurated through multiparty politics cannot, in seeking to include everyone through its universalism, mediate an emancipatory path without apprehending the limits of its own identitarianism; and second, that particular injuries suffered by individuals and groups based on their class, racial, gender or ethnic subjections are no longer apparent when examined within the very structures (of the liberal human rights discourses) that reproduce them as injuries. Tracing the possibilities of feminist emancipatory politics through the dialectics of politicized ethnicity and the formal mechanisms of colonial rule, I seek in this paper to expose certain limitations inherent in the liberal construction of rights, and how these limitations structure violent power – or power as violence – and structural exclusions within the democratizing neoliberal state.  
Lyn Ossome is Senior Research Fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), Kampala. She holds a PhD in Political Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and was previously Postdoctoral Fellow at the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa. Her research specializations are in feminist political economy, land and agrarian studies and feminist political theory. Her current work and writings deal with ideas of emancipation through a critical engagement with histories of women in politics, identitarian politics, queer histories, and the politics of human rights. In the area of land and agrarian studies, her research is concerned with the agrarian question of gender equity, subsistence political economies, and reproductive labour regimes. She is currently completing a book project investigating the structural links between gendered and ethnicized violence, and liberal democratic politics. She serves on the editorial boards of The MISR Review and Pax Academica and sits on the Scientific Committee of the Council for the Development of Social and Economic Research in Africa (CODESRIA). In April 2016 she was Visiting Scholar at the National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, under its flagship Contemporary Third World Lecture Series.
Open to: 
General Public