Research projects 2

This project aims at rethinking ways of reading and writing change in African gender history. Looking at oral historical narratives and the transgenerational communication of historical knowledge among the Yaawo-speaking people in northern Mozambique, it brings the study of gender in African deeper pasts in dialogue with a cultural analysis of the contemporary historical moment. My starting argument is that our understanding of the contemporary historical moment in African gender history is strongly framed by the gender and development models of the social sciences which emphasize women’s struggle for gender equality in relation to men. This understanding influences the way in which we approach the past and write our research narratives. Through this history writing, women’s historical experiences become fixed within teleological narratives of ‘liberation’ (/‘oppression’). The past is distanced from the present along a linear path, and what is termed the ‘precolonial past’ is isolated as a separate unit of study. In my research, I seek to challenge this temporal model and explore new ways to read and write gendered histories that more fully capture the multiplicity of the gendered temporalities that constitute African existence. Overall, my study has a two-fold objective: Firstly, on the basis of the Yaawo oral historical narratives, it aims to contribute to our understanding of female political and spiritual power in Africa’s precolonial past and the historical processes of change in the colonial and postcolonial contexts. Secondly, I will study how these deeper histories also echo and are reworked in the present and thus constitute the contemporary historical experience in interaction with, for instance, more recent socialist ideas of women’s emancipation and the current development discourse on gender equality. Overall, my research proposes to open new routes in the theoretical thinking as well as the methodologies of African gender history.

Team

  • Head of research Timo Tokola, Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, Tiina Kontinen
  • Language n/a

The FinCEAL Plus BRIDGES project (2019-2020) supports the development of partnerships and collaborative research activities between the Finnish research community and those in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). In addition, the project facilitates connections with European partners, whenever the cooperation also includes partners from the target regions. The project is an extension of the FinCEAL (2013-2014), FinCEAL Plus (2015-2016) and FinCEAL Plus Continuation initiatives, all financed by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Previously, the focus of FinCEAL has been on supporting research collaboration in the thematic areas determined by the EU's bi-regional science, technology and innovation (STI) policy dialogues with Africa, Asia and LAC. FinCEAL BRIDGES will continue to contribute towards strengthening bi-regional cooperation, while expanding the thematic focus to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development (Goal 17). On a national level, BRIDGES also supports the International Strategy for Higher Education and Research 2017-2025. The Ministry has mandated the UniPID network to coordinate the initiative.

Team

Jarkko Mutanen, Melissa Plath, Quivine Ndomo