Contested Encounters: Toward a Twenty-First-Century African Feminist Ethnography

Citation:

Makana, Selina. 2018. "Contested Encounters: Toward a Twenty-First-Century African Feminist Ethnography." Meridians 17 (2): 361-75.

Author: Selina Makana

Abstract:

This essay reflects upon both the predicaments and the promises of feminist ethnography in contemporary Africa from the position of an African feminist researcher. Two key questions guide the analysis: What are productive ways to respond to feminist critiques of representing the African woman “other”? What are the promises, if any, of African feminist ethnography documenting the histories of women on the continent? This essay argues that African feminist ethnography is a productive methodology that helps to highlight knowledge production about women’s lives in their specific sociopolitical, ethnolinguistic, religious, and economic contexts. To highlight the significance and limits of reflexivity and the idiosyncrasies of ethnographic research, this essay calls for a different way of naming the encounters between researchers and their participants. It therefore proposes naming this energy the ebb and flow of fieldwork research because this metaphor helps to destabilize and move beyond the rigid binaries of insider/outsider that have traditionally characterized power relations in fieldwork.

Topics: Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Intersectionality, Race, Religion Regions: Africa

Year: 2018

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