Postcolonialism and feminism(s) (2018/19)

Course Description: 


In this 4-credit course, we will identify and trace the centrality of gender to the processes and problematics of colonialism, postcolonialism, nationalism and transnationalism, and the ways in which feminism(s) have been shaped both by and within these different contexts. Postcolonial scholarship emerged in the wake of nineteenth century imperial expansion and more critically during the first part of the twentieth-century as colonies struggled for independence and self-determination. By rejecting western hegemony, the postcolonial paradigm challenges the dominance of the liberal and rationalistic Enlightenment episteme by engaging with the “Other”. We will draw broadly in the course to engage with a history of postcolonial feminist thought, with an effort to align the course with some of the better recognized and also lesser known authors that have prioritized women’s lived and material experiences, women’s labour and their uses by nationalist movements, and the feminist politics of anti-colonial struggle -- all within the broader framework of imperial shifts that have informed the current stage of capitalism.


Postcolonial feminists and areas of feminist writing continue to address women and girls that are caught between imaginaries and geographies of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’, and we will take time in the course to explore what it is that has formed the temporal and spatial foundations for advancing the now well-cited ideas put forward by Edward Said in his seminal text, Orientalism. We will explore the implications of queer sexualities on this area of study, and look at how the sexual politics of respectability in the late nineteenth-century came to bear on regional, nationalist, ‘international’ politics of activism and feminism. The course will look at decolonized spaces and the politics of gendered citizenship, especially as it relates to the state’s investment in gender regimes and development. The course concludes by exploring local and global women’s movement across multiple contexts. 

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and engage with the major themes outlined in the course syllabus, and offer a critical interpretation of all class readings assigned to these themes.
  • Understand the key theoretical developments in the field of postcolonial and subaltern feminist pedagogy, as well as critical feminist critiques to colonialism, imperialism, nationalism and capitalism. 
  • Adopt an intersectional approach to the major themes of the course, and understand how gendered experiences and the interpretations of feminists and their allies, both in the past and in the present, have and continue to shape the ways we conceptualize a postcolonial feminism.
  • Engage actively with the key fields of colonial, postcolonial and imperial developments that subaltern and postcolonial feminist theory have critiqued, and be able to distinguish a multitude of different feminism(s).



Course Assignments and Grading

  • Class Participation                                                                                          40%
  • Book Review                                                                                                    20%
  • Group Assignment                                                                                          20%
  • In-Class Exam                                                                                                  20%