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Political Economies

Can the Law Secure Women's Rights to Land in Africa? Revisiting Tensions Between Culture and Land Commercialization


Ossome, Lyn. 2014. “Can the Law Secure Women’s Rights to Land in Africa? Revisiting Tensions Between Culture and Land Commercialization.” Feminist Economics 20 (1): 155–77.

Author: Lyn Ossome


This contribution is concerned with the challenges of securing women's rights to land in Africa in the context of contemporary land deals through a discussion of three distinct but interrelated problems in the framing of women's land rights discourses. First, this study discusses the interface between rights and “custom” to highlight the inherent distortions of African customary law. Second, it argues that liberal formulations of the law are limited by a set of assumptions regarding women's position in the political economy. And third, this discussion discursively assesses the debates in the literature regarding the efficacy of law in protecting women's rights to land. The discussion proceeds from a critique of two approaches to promoting gender equity in land tenure systems: the institutional approach, which deals with women's formal land rights; and the political economy approach, which deals with the structural nature of women's traditional relations to land.

Keywords: women, customary law, commercialization, political economy, justice, land

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Justice, Land grabbing, Political Economies, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2014

Funding Pain: Bedouin Women and Political Economy in the Naqab/Negev


Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera, Antonina Griecci Woodsum, Himmat Zu’bi, and Rachel Busbridge. 2014. “Funding Pain: Bedouin Women and Political Economy in the Naqab/Negev.” Feminist Economics 20 (4): 164–86. doi:10.1080/13545701.2014.946941.

Authors: Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Antonia Griecci Woodsum, Himmat Zu'bi, Rachel Busbridge


This contribution focuses on the experiences and voices of Palestinian Bedouin women surviving and challenging Israeli colonial policies while residing in their own land and, in particular, the Bedouin women of the Naqab living in unrecognized villages. Through interviews and focus groups, this study learns from and engages with the voices of Palestinian Bedouin women because colonized women's criticisms of the political economic apparatus are seldom invoked to influence policy. Exploring these women's voices offers an opportunity to examine the political economy of their unrecognized, officially nonexistent villages and homes and to rectify the gap in bottom-up knowledge of political economy by investigating the institutional structures that define and circumscribe women's lives. Privileging Bedouin women's production of knowledge carries the analytical value of studying political economy based on women's own experiences and struggles against hegemony.

Keywords: bedouin women, political economy, palestine, Israel

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Households, Political Economies Regions: Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2014

Moving Beyond Culturalism and Formalism: Islam, Women, and Political Unrest in the Middle East


Çavdar, Gamze, and Yavuz Yaşar. 2014. “Moving Beyond Culturalism and Formalism: Islam, Women, and Political Unrest in the Middle East.” Feminist Economics 20 (4): 33–57. doi:10.1080/13545701.2014.933858.


Scenes of political unrest throughout the Middle East are often coupled with media reports and public debates in the United States that have a recurring theme: the relationship between women and Islam. After discussing the culturalist accounts that portray women as being in grave danger from Islam and in need of Western protection and supervision, this contribution examines an emerging trend in political science developed under the influence of the formalism of neoclassical economics. The study argues that despite ostensibly universal assumptions about human behavior and alleged objectivity, the theoretical foundations of neoclassical economics and its methodological formalism fall short in providing an alternative to culturalism, and, instead, reinforce the misperceptions and misunderstandings about the region.

Keywords: politics, religion, gender

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Political Economies, Religion

Year: 2014

Toward a Feminist Political Economy of Wartime Sexual Violence: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo


Meger, Sara. 2015. “Toward a Feminist Political Economy of Wartime Sexual Violence: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (3): 416–34. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.941253.

Author: Sara Meger


Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been a prominent feature in the conflict in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is a weapon of war, an instrument of terror and perpetrated opportunistically by armed men from all factions of the conflict. While most feminist analyses identify the link between gender and SGBV, they have tended to privilege individual or cultural accounts of gender construction. This article develops a feminist political economy analysis of SGBV in the ongoing conflict that looks at the relationship between gender as an international structure and the processes of the international political economy that precipitate this violence in Congo's ongoing war. This article theorizes an important and overlooked relationship between the structures of gender hierarchy and international political economy that may provide insights into the widespread use of SGBV in the conflict in eastern DRC, which this article contends constitutes part of the “global assembly line” of capitalist production.

Keywords: political economy, sexual violence, new wars, masculinity

Topics: Armed Conflict, "New Wars", Economies, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Political Economies, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2015

The Gender, Poverty, Governance Nexus: Key Issues and Current Debates


Sever, Charlie. 2005. “The Gender, Poverty, Governance Nexus: Key Issues and Current Debates.” Development Cooperation Ireland.

Author: Charlie Sever

Topics: Civil Society, Corruption, Development, Economies, Gender, Women, Men, Gender Roles, Political Economies, Political Participation

Year: 2005

(Re-)Conceptualizing Water Inequality in Delhi, India through a Feminist Political Ecology Framework


Truelove, Yaffa. 2011. “(Re-)Conceptualizing Water Inequality in Delhi, India through a Feminist Political Ecology Framework.” Geoforum, Themed Issue: New Feminist Political Ecologies, 42 (2): 143–52. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.01.004.

Author: Yaffa Truelove


This article demonstrates how a feminist political ecology (FPE) framework can be utilized to expand scholarly conceptualizations of water inequality in Delhi, India. I argue that FPE is well positioned to complement and deepen urban political ecology work through attending to everyday practices and micropolitics within communities. Specifically, I examine the embodied consequences of sanitation and ‘water compensation’ practices and how patterns of criminality are tied to the experience of water inequality. An FPE framework helps illuminate water inequalities forged on the body and within particular urban spaces, such as households, communities, streets, open spaces and places of work. Applying FPE approaches to the study of urban water is particularly useful in analyzing inequalities associated with processes of social differentiation and their consequences for everyday life and rights in the city. An examination of the ways in which water practices are productive of particular urban subjectivities and spaces complicates approaches that find differences in distribution and access to be the primary lens for viewing how water is tied to power and inequality.

Keywords: water, inequality, gender, Urban India, Criminality, Environmental politics, feminist political ecology

Topics: Caste, Civil Society, Class, Corruption, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

'They Are Not of This House’: The Gendered Costs of Drinking Water’s Commodification


O’Reilly, Kathleen. 2011. “‘They Are Not of This House’: The Gendered Costs of Drinking Water’s Commodification.” Economic & Political Weekly, Review of Women’s Studies, 46 (18): 49–55.

Author: Kathleen O’Reilly


While women’s participation is considered a key element of the sustainability plan of the drinking water supply system, some villagers in Rajasthan do not count women in the households while paying common water charges. This paper explores the social, political and environmental implications of not counting girls as household members and drinkers of water. It tries to find answers to the following questions: What are the implications of girls’ non-payment for the cost of drinking water in a shared system? What might girls’ non-payment mean in terms of the gendered sustainability goals of the project? What are the implications for women’s and girls’ political subjectivity, especially where natural resources are concerned?

The paper also addresses a gap in the political ecology literature with respect to the gender dimensions of neo-liberal processes in the water sector by
suggesting a variety of impacts when girls are excluded from water payment.

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Governance, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Gendered Water Spaces: A Study of the Transition from Wells to Handpumps in Mozambique


Houweling, Emily Van. 2015. “Gendered Water Spaces: A Study of the Transition from Wells to Handpumps in Mozambique.” Gender, Place & Culture 22 (10): 1391–407. 

Author: Emily Van Houweling


In many parts of rural Africa, women and children spend a lot of time collecting water. In the development literature, the water collection task is portrayed as oppressive, arduous, and disliked by women. Eliminating this activity from women's lives is believed to empower them, yet there has been little research investigating what actually happens at the water source or how women themselves perceive the time spent there. This research is based on one year of ethnographic fieldwork in five rural communities in the northern province of Nampula, Mozambique. Over this year, handpumps were constructed in communities where people previously collected water from distant shallow wells and rivers. This article compares the social interactions and activities between the customary water sites and the handpump through the lens of gendered space. The customary water sites are controlled by women and highly valued for their social attributes. While clean water is more accessible at the handpumps, men often regulate access to the technology and social activities are limited. This article contributes to feminist geography and political ecology by showing how differences in the materiality of water spaces interact with local norms to shape social interactions and gendered subjectivities, and how, in turn, men and women contribute to the production and meaning of these spaces. I argue that the handpumps open up new spaces for men and women to negotiate gender roles and (re)define their associations with modernity and development.

Keywords: water, gender, women, Mozambique, africa

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Political Economies Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2015

“Women and the Political Economy of War”


Cohn, Carol, ed. 2012. "Women and the Political Economy of War." Chap. 2 in Women and Wars. Malden, MA: Polity Press.  

Author: Angela Raven-Roberts

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Political Economies

Year: 2012


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