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The Cultural Politics of Female Sexuality in South Africa


Gunkel, Henriette. 2010. The Cultural Politics of Female Sexuality in South Africa. New York & Oxon: Routledge.

Author: Henriette Gunkel


Sexual identity has emerged into the national discourse of post-apartheid South Africa, bringing the subject of rights and the question of gender relations and cultural authenticity into the focus of the nation state's politics. This book is a fascinating reflection on the effects of these discourses on non-normative modes of sexuality and intimacy and on the country more generally. While in 1996, South Africa became the first country in the world that explicitly incorporated lesbian and gay rights within a Bill of Rights, much of the country has continued to see homosexuality as un-African. Henriette Gunkel examines how colonialism and apartheid have historically shaped constructions of gender and sexuality and how these concepts have not only been re-introduced and shaped by understandings of homosexuality as un-African but also by the post-apartheid constitution and continued discourse within the nation.

Topics: Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, LGBTQ, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2010

Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory


Kassem, Fatma. 2011. Palestinian Women: Narrative Histories and Gendered Memory. London & New York: Zed.

Author: Fatma Kassem


Palestinian Women is the first book to examine and document the experiences and the historical narrative of ordinary Palestinian women who witnessed the events of 1948 and became involuntary citizens of the State of Israel. Told in their own words, the women's experiences serve as a window for examining the complex intersections of gender, nationalism and citizenship in a situation of ongoing violent political conflict. Known in Palestinian discourse as the "Nakbeh," or the "Catastrophe," these events of 60 years ago still have a powerful resonance in contemporary Palestinian-Jewish relations in the State of Israel and in the act of narrating these stories, the author argues that the realm of memory is a site of commemoration and resistance.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Femininity/ies Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2011

Sex, Gender, and September 11


Charlesworth, Hilary, and Christine Chinkin. 2002. “Sex, Gender, and September 11.” The American Journal of International Law 96 (3): 600–605. doi:10.2307/3062163.

Authors: Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin



 "The October 2001 issue of the American Journal of International Law contained several editorials on the international law implications of the hijackings of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. In one respect these editorials resemble other writings on these events in academic and popular media: questions of sex and gender are largely overlooked. In our view, however, concepts of sex and gender provide a valuable perspective on these devastating actions. We use the term "sex" here to refer to issues about women as distinct biological beings from men, and the term "gender" to encompass social understandings of femininity and masculinity. Although the value of this distinction is much debated among feminist scholars, we find it helpful in this context" (American Society of International Law, 600).

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2002

New Steering Methods in Regional Policy — Transforming the Alliance of ‘State Feminism'


Hedlund, Gun, and Malin Lindberg. 2012. “New Steering Methods in Regional Policy — Transforming the Alliance of ‘State Feminism.’” Women’s Studies International Forum 35 (3): 166–72. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2012.03.005.

Authors: Gun Hedlund, Malin Lindberg


In this article, the theory of ‘state feminism’ is applied on the area of regional development policy, supplementing existing research about state–citizen relationships in northern and southern Europe. Based on Swedish data, it is argued that the former alliance between the women's movement and the welfare state has been transformed as a result of new steering methods in regional development policy in a way that is best understood as a paradox. This paradox includes both stronger and weaker relations. The public support to Women Resource Centres (WRCs) in Sweden is used as an example of ‘state feminism’. The ability of the WRCs to affect policy has changed over time, however, due to the adoption of new steering methods based on networks and market-orientation in Swedish regional development policy. The conclusions induce further development of ‘state feminism’ theory, making it more up-to-date with the prevalent interaction between women's movements and European welfare states.

Topics: Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gender Balance, Gendered Power Relations, Governance, Political Participation Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2012

'It Was Better During the War': Narratives of Everyday Violence in a Palestinian Refugee Camp


Latif, Nadia. 2012. “‘it Was Better during the War’: Narratives of Everyday Violence in a Palestinian Refugee Camp.” Feminist Review 101 (1): 24–40. doi:10.1057/fr.2011.55.

Author: Nadia Latif


The distinction between what is commonly regarded as the routine of impoverishment and what is acknowledged and remarked upon as violence is increasingly being questioned in scholarship and public policy circles. Interrogating the distinction between routine and remarkable not only reveals the habits and relationships constituting everyday life as the site of violence, but also foregrounds questions of gender. Given that the everyday is shaped by a given community's norms regarding the gendered division of labour that produces and reproduces the conditions of the everyday, in what ways is violence as well as its experience gendered? This article examines this question in the particular context of Palestinian camp refugees’ lived experience of forced displacement in Lebanon. It explores the ways in which the violence used against Palestinian camp refugees draws on norms regarding masculinity and femininity shared by the refugees as well as their Lebanese oppressors. It also examines the ways in which Palestinian camp refugees’ everyday experience of impoverishment as well as the acknowledged violence of forced displacement, subjection to Lebanese military intelligence control, and participation in the armed struggle for national liberation are constituted by and constitutive of unequal subject positions of gender, class and citizenship.

Keywords: Palestinian refugees, Palestinian refugee camps, gender, violence, Lebanese civil war, the everyday

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Citizenship, Class, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2012

Empowered Wives and Frustrated Husbands: Nursing, Gender and Migrant Nepali in the UK


Adhikari, Radha. 2013. “Empowered Wives and Frustrated Husbands: Nursing, Gender and Migrant Nepali in the UK.” International Migration 51 (6): 168–79. doi:10.1111/imig.12107.

Author: Radha Adhikari


Since 2000, increasing numbers of Nepali nurses have crossed national borders to participate in the global healthcare market. The most common destination countries are the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. In particular, educated middle-class women are attracted to nursing with the full support of their families. There have been profound changes in women's position in Nepali society. As a female only profession in Nepal, nursing provides an excellent focus on how and why these changes have occurred.

Based on a multi-sited ethnography, including in-depth interviews with nurses and their families, conducted in Nepal and the UK from 2006–2008, this article discusses the changing nursing profession within the broader context of gender dynamics. Between 2000 and 2008, around 1000 Nepali nurses migrated to the UK. International nurse migration hugely affects nurses' immediate family dynamics. This article illustrates how migrant nurses' husbands have to accept a compromised social position, from being family bread-winners in Nepal to dependent husbands in the UK.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict Regions: Asia, South Asia, Europe Countries: Nepal, United Kingdom

Year: 2013

Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives


Fernando, Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda, and Laurie Cohen. 2014. “Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 149–64. doi:10.1111/gwao.12027.

Authors: Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda Fernando, Laurie Cohen


This paper places respectable femininity at the very centre of career enactment. In the accounts of 24 Sri Lankan women, notions of being a ‘respectable’ woman recurred as respondents described how important it was to adhere to the powerful behavioural norms for women in their organizations and society. However while such respectability was vital for women's career progression, it ultimately restricted their agency and conflicted with other requirements for advancement. Based on our empirical findings, we propose that being a respectable woman was experienced as paradox, where at times it was seen as impossible to be both a good woman and a successful careerist. We highlight the implications of our findings for women's careers in South Asia and more widely.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2014

Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.


Fischer, Gundula. 2014. “Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 135–48. doi:10.1111/gwao.12026.

Author: Gundula Fischer


Although female labour force participation in Tanzania is growing, little is known about how hiring authorities fill job positions with respect to gender. Qualitative interviews with hospitality and manufacturing managers in Mwanza (Tanzania's second largest city) reveal that female deference, sexuality, domesticity and respectability constitute important recruitment and job placement criteria. This article examines the various notions behind these criteria and how they serve to include or exclude women in the workforce. It is shown that when the interaction of these criteria is conceptualized, deference and domesticity emerge as essential elements of female respectability, supporting each other in the control of women's sexuality.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Sexuality Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2014

Defending Their Land, Protecting Their Men: Palestinian Women’s Popular Resistance after the Second Intifada


Richter-Devroe, Sophie. 2012. “Defending Their Land, Protecting Their Men: Palestinian Women’s Popular Resistance after the Second Intifada.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 14 (2): 181–201. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.659856.

Author: Sophie Richter-Devroe


Popular resistance has, following the recent uprisings in different Arab countries, received increased media and scholarly attention. Yet, the role that women and gender play in civil resistance movements remains understudied. In this article I analyse different forms, contexts and framings of Palestinian women's protest activism after 2000, arguing that their acts can potentially affect social and political change. Although so far unsuccessful in sustaining concrete material changes, women's embodied protest politics, by radically challenging conventional male-dominated political discourse and practice, might provide visionary outlines of a non-masculinist, non-militarist, yet proactive form of political culture in Palestine.

Keywords: embodied politics, palestine, popular resistance, social movements, women's activism

Topics: Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2012

Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists


Bloom, Mia. 2011. Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists. London: Hurst Publishers.

Author: Mia Bloom


The ultimate stealth weapon, female terrorists kill on average four times more people than their male counterparts. But why are more women drawn to terrorism than ever before? Do women volunteer to be terrorists, or are they coerced? Does women’s participation in terrorism have any positive impact on their place in society?

In Bombshell, Mia Bloom seeks to understand what motivates women and to redress the gap in our understanding of women’s roles by interviewing women previously involved in terrorist groups. Bloom provides a unique and rare first-hand glimpse into the psychology, culture and social networks of women who become terrorists. Bombshell takes an in-depth look at women involved in terrorism in Chechnya, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Drawing on primary research and secondary literature, Bloom examines the increasing role of women in terrorism, and considers what it means for the societies from which they come.

(Hurst Publishers)

Keywords: gender studies, terrorism

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Terrorism Regions: Africa, MENA, East Africa, Americas, North America, South America, Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, Central Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America

Year: 2011


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