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Women and gender in the Horn of Africa : constructions and social dynamics

Belete Bizuneh (Department of History, Addis Ababa University),
Silvia Bruzzi (IMAF/Institut Émilie du Chatelet),
Thomas Guindeuil (CFEE/IMAF),
Margaux Herman (CFEE/IMAF),
Salamawit Mecca (Addis Ababa University),
Angela M. Mueller (Hamburg University),
Rahwa Mussie (Center for Gender Studies, Addis Ababa University).

This new research program gathers researchers from different fields whose main research focus is on women in the Horn of Africa, studied in any context and during any period of time.In countries of the Horn of Africa, Women’s History and Gender Studies are two academic fields that share several specificities in common. Since they are fields that recently developed, their historiography is quite poor. Considering the current dynamism of Gender Studies in Europe and northern America, the CFEE wants to gather the few researchers working on issues related to this topic in the Horn of Africa. Gender Studies have somehow marginalised Women’s History in the course of their development, though the latter is an older domain. While History has often been written ‘without women’, a gender-related History of the world in now being produced. In Ethiopia, independent Gender Studies Departments have emerged in universities. This is supported by the government, international organisations, and NGOs. Besides, a Women’s History class has been added to the curriculum of History Departments since 2012 (a class that does not exist in the curriculum of Gender Studies Departments).
This research team intends to go beyond this division in order to, on the one hand, analyse the trajectories of women and the social construction of the role of women in contemporary dynamics of the region and, on the other hand, make the historical perspective available to sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists working on Gender Studies in the Horn of Africa. Both the modes of action and social construction of roles and the room for manoeuvre and negotiation of women must be documented. Our research notably intends to retrace individual or collective itineraries and understand the relationships of some women or groups of women with political, religious, or economic powers. It also intends to underline the partnership and rallying abilities of women, in the past as well as in the present.
Some contemporary phenomena affecting the Horn of Africa deserve particular attention : changes in and construction of Nation-States, socio-economic transformations and rapid urbanisation, public health policies, regional and inter-regional migrations, environmental and climate changes, and so on. This team thus wants to act as a driving force at the crossroad of other scientific activities and research programs of the CFEE. It has brought Women and Gender Studies to all sorts of events organised by the CFEE since January 2015 (on the link between public health and culture, migrations from/in the Horn of Africa, and responses to environmental and climate changes in the Horn of Africa, for instance).
This program is based on a new research seminar of the CFEE on women and gender in the Horn of Africa, which is organised by Margaux Herman, Rahwa Mussie (Center for Gender Studies, Addis Ababa University), Angela M. Mueller (Hamburg University), Belete Bizuneh (Department of History, AAU), and Thomas Guindeuil. This seminar aims at producing a handbook of Women’s History intended for History students of Ethiopian universities.
Organisation : Margaux Herman.

Follow the news of this research program on the blog of the CFEE :


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