Gendering Modernity: Postcolonial and Decolonial Perspectives
Lecturer: Prof Anne Phillips, London School of Economics
8 Feb 2021
From (at least) the eighteenth century onwards, European philosophers and historians have represented the status of women as a crucial marker of a society’s level of civilisation, and have seen modernity as the era when women came to be accepted as individuals in their own right. In this framing of distinctions between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’, it became one of the justifications for colonialism that it supposedly rescued women from precolonial abuses. The contrast is however highly contentious, and particularly so when ‘modernity’ so often maintained and intensified gender difference. Ideas about the superior treatment of women in modern societies continue to shape political discourse today.
- Amadiume, Ifi ‘Gender, Political Systems and Social Movements: a West African Experience’ pp35-68 in Mahmood Mamdani and Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba (eds) African Studies in Social Movement and Democracy (Senegal, CODESRIA, 1995)
- Chakrabarty Dipesh, “The Muddle of Modernity”, The American Historical Review 116/3, 2011, 663-675
- Fanon, Frantz The Wretched of the Earth (Penguin, 1967)
- Farrar, Tarikhu ‘The Queenmother, Matriarchy, and the Question of Female Political Authority in Precolonial West African Monarchy’. Journal of Black Studies. 27(5), 1997:579-597.
- Hall, Catherine ‘Of Gender and Empire: Reflections on the Nineteenth Century’ in Philippa Levine (ed) Gender and Empire (Oxford University Press, 2004)
- Lugones, María 2011. ‘Toward a Decolonial Feminism,’ Hypatia 25 (4): 742-59
- Mamdani, Mahmood Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton University Press, 1996)
- Phillips, Anne ‘Gender and Modernity’ Political Theory 46 /6, 2018
- In what ways does the status of women figure in notions of modernity?
- How have these contributed to justifications of colonialism?
- How do contrasts between ’modern’ and ‘traditional’, and ideas about the superior treatment of women in modern societies, continue to play out in political discourse in contemporary Europe?