Gender Institute: Gender, Cultures, Politics And Fundamentalisms In Africa (Deadline: March 16, 2011)
Every year since 1994, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) has organized a Gender Institute which brings together between 12 and 15 researchers for 3 weeks of concentrated debate, experience-sharing and knowledge-building.
Initially aimed at promoting widespread awareness of the concept of gender and its related issues, the institute has subsequently been organized around specific themes designed to strengthen the integration of gender analysis into social science research in Africa and encourage the emergence of a community of researchers versed in the field of gender studies.
Organization: The activities of all CODESRIA institutes centre on presentations made by African researchers, resource persons from the continent and the Diaspora and participants whose applications for participation as laureates have been successful. The sessions are led by a scientific director who, with the support of resource persons, ensures that the laureates are exposed to a wide range of research and policy issues. Each laureate is required to prepare a research paper to be presented during the institute. The revised version of such a paper will undergo a peer review for publication by CODESRIA. The CODESRIA Documentation and Information Centre (CODICE) will provide participants with a comprehensive bibliography on the theme of the institute. Access to a number of documentation centers in and around Dakar will also also be facilitated. The CODESRIA Gender Institute will be held in both English and French through simultaneous interpretation.
The theme for the 2011 edition is Gender, Cultures, Politics and Fundamentalisms, and it is aimed at exploring the links between culture, religion and politics which reflect an extreme complexity, in a contemporary context where political and religious issues clash at both national and international levels.
Whatever its origin and nature, religion is woven into culture and can provide a solid foundation both to the most basic acts of daily life (greetings, food, taboos, legal provisions, moral rules of conduct) and to political decision making of major world powers in the late 20th century, despite the obviousness of some economic and geopolitical interests. Regarded as a dimension of privacy in countries mostly described as secular, religion goes far beyond the public and politics. Africa, our area of reflection, offers a variety of situations: some republics claim to be Islamic, others make Islam a state religion. In other countries that are federations, there are some states which apply the Sharia. The vast majority of states with large Muslim populations have enacted family codes, based wholly or partly on Islamic laws. All these phenomena assume an assuredly ‘political’ dimension. In the name of the Muslim or Christian religions, states and various movements are organizing themselves, and taking decisions and actions described as fundamentalist, as they are considering a necessary return to fundamental principles. Such beliefs have been the cause of much cultural, political and military violence that has claimed many lives among populations, and women especially.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Communist regimes of the 1990s were indicative of the death of ideologies and the resurgence of religions in the Western world. But can we really speak of a resurgence of religions in the world, while many societies have never ceased to convey the values and religious practices that give meaning to their daily lives?
In Africa, religion, its cultural logics and its institutions have always been the foundations on which societies have developed and have been transformed. Societies have had religious experiences, based on cultural, cosmological and mythological constructions; on the cults of ancestors; and on symbolic, initiatory, syncretic, messianic, brotherhood systems, etc. Islam and Christianity have developed on soils rich in spirituality, mysticism and piety in local religions. One can talk of a return to the sacred, but quite largely of continuity, the strengthening of a religious and cultural heritage embodied in everyday life, which is easily the bed of fundamentalisms.
It is therefore about being aware of the sensitive place of religion and its impact on culture in contemporary social and political transformations. This phenomenon has significantly contributed to the backlash against women’s rights. While the secularization of laws has led to major progress in women’s rights, reinforced by three decades of major international conferences (on women, environment, human rights, population, etc.), such progress has always been challenged by fundamentalist movements. This phenomenon is the corollary of the various cultural tensions, no less fundamentalist, in the name of African culture; the consequences of which have been especially suffered by women. In the name of the African values that underlie national identities, it is increasingly difficult to make a reasoned criticism of social and cultural practices that are yet constantly evolving into living realities.
Religion, culture and politics have so much intertwined actions and confused their effects in the daily lives of people that it is extremely difficult to disentangle the various sources of influence. If we have usually accused religious actors of being fundamentalists, we must today extend our analysis to other actors in politics such as the neoliberal system and its propagators. Indeed, denouncing only religious and cultural fundamentalisms could mean to sever the claims against a prevailing world order. This unequal world order not only monopolizes political power and exploits the global resources for its own purposes, but it deprives large sections of the population of the freedom to exist, and move around as free, individual citizens of the world.
The neoliberal system is not only an economic, but also a social and political system, with the resurgence of right-wing parties in the West. It is a corollary of neo-conservatism which conveys religious and cultural values that are as traditionalist, conformist and regressive as those it claims to fight, for example, in the Muslim world. There is a genuine alliance between neoliberal and neoconservative organizations. They seek to promote values that are opposed to current socio-cultural changes in the name of Christian religious values of the Bible and the Gospels. They reject any critical review of such original texts. The impact of these values is critical for the situations of women in the world and in countries of the South, including those in Africa.
Among the struggles waged by women over the past thirty years, sexuality and fecundity have been key elements. In addition to their rights as citizens, which they should share with men on principles of equality enshrined in most constitutions, there are specific rights that affect women’s bodies, namely their physical, sexual and reproductive rights. Various provisions of criminal law, labor law or civil law governing relations between people, particularly between men and women, often wear the mark of gender difference, a difference that can be expressed in terms of inequalities. In the current context of women’s struggles to eradicate such inequalities, they are reinforced by national and international policies promulgated in the name of religious morality. It is important, through a multidisciplinary and comparative approach, to conduct a critical review of the nature and role of these various fundamentalisms that are emerging as social phenomena, as political discourses and practices. How do these fundamentalisms use religion, culture and politics to influence gender relations and perpetuate the oppression of women?
The 2011 Gender Institute will consist of two parts:
1. Concepts and methodological tools in women and gender studies :
- History of ideas: some theoretical benchmarks for gender;
- Study of theories and concepts ;
- Methods of feminist criticism and gender analysis ;
2. Debates from a gender perspective on issues related to the theme: Gender, Cultures and Fundamentalisms:
- Culture, religion and politics: theorizing their overlap in social, economic and political analyses;
- Fundamentalism: definitions and forerunners;
- Various forms of fundamentalism: religious, cultural, political, economic, etc.; development by state and non-state actors;
- The impact of fundamentalism on gender relations and the situation of women: resistance and alternative visions of movements, including those of women.
Director of the Institute : The 2011Gender Institute will be directed by Professor Fatou Sow, one of the most eminent African experts on Gender. The Director of the Institute will:
- Participate in the selection of laureates;
- Assist with the identification of appropriate resource persons;
- Interact with resource persons and laureates to better prepare the Institute;
- Design the course for the session, including the specification of sub-themes;
- Deliver a set of lectures and conduct a critical analysis of the papers presented by resource persons and laureates;
- Submit a written scientific report on the session. In addition, Professor Fatou Sow will (co) edit the revised versions of the papers presented by the resource persons, and assess the papers presented by laureates during the Institute, with a view to submitting them for publication by CODESRIA.
Resource Persons : Lectures to be delivered at the Institute are to offer laureates an opportunity to advance their reflections on the theme of the Institute. Resource persons should therefore be senior scholars or researchers in their mid-careers who have published extensively on the topic, and who have significant contributions to make to the debates on it. They will be expected to produce lecture materials which stimulate laureates to engage in discussion and debate around the lectures and the general body of literature available on the theme.
Once selected, resource persons must:
- Interact with the Director of the institute and laureates to help the latter readjust their research questions and their methodological approach;
- Submit a copy of their course material for reproduction and distribution to participants no later than one week before the time for the delivery of their lectures;
- Deliver their lectures, participate in debates and comment on the research proposals of the laureates;
- Review and submit the revised version of their lecture notes or research papers for publication by CODESRIA, not later than two months after their presentation at the Institute.
Laureates: Candidates should be Masters or PHD students or scholars in the early stage of their careers, with a proven capacity to conduct research on the theme of the Institute. Intellectuals active in the policy process and/or social movements and civil society organizations are also encouraged to apply. The number of places available for laureates of this Institute, to be selected across the entire African continent is only fifteen (15). Non-African scholars who are able to raise funds for their participation may also apply for a limited number of places.
Methods of Application: Applications for the position of resource person must include:
- An application letter;
- A curriculum vitae;
- Two (2) published papers;
- A proposal of not more than five (5) pages in length, outlining the issues to be covered in their three (3) proposed lectures, including one on methodological issues.
Applications for consideration as a laureate must include:
- An application letter;
- A letter indicating institutional or organizational affiliation;
- A curriculum vitae;
- A research proposal of not more than ten (10) pages, in two copies, including a descriptive analysis of the work the applicant intends to undertake, an outline of the theoretical interest of the topic chosen by the applicant, and the relationship of the topic to the problematic and concerns of the theme of the 2011 Institute;
- Two (2) reference letters from scholars or researchers known for their competence and expertise in the candidate’s research area (geographic and disciplinary), including their names, addresses, telephone and/or fax numbers and email addresses.
Application Deadline: The deadline for the receipt of applications is 16th March, 2010. Laureates will be informed of the outcome of the selection process by the end of March 2011. Laureates are expected to use the months of April and May to carry out their fieldworks and/or collect information to prepare the draft research papers to be presented during the Institute. Each draft research paper should be submitted to CODESRIA not later than 1st June, 2011. Laureates will be expected to work on this document (and not on the abstract of the proposal) and prepare it for publication during the Institute.
Date and Venue: The Institute will be held from 6th to 24th June, 2011 in Dakar, Senegal.
Submission of Applications: All applications should be sent to:
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop X Canal IV
B.P. 3304, CP 18524, Dakar, Senegal
Tel. (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23 - Fax: (221) 33 824 12 89
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or: email@example.com
Web site: http://www.codesria.org: