Gayatri Spivak Directs New Africa-Led Project

Starting in fall 2015, the new Women Creating Change project, “The Rural Urban Interface: Gender and Poverty in Ghana and Kenya,” will research the narratives of populations who migrate from the countrysides of Ghana and Kenya to those countries’ urban centers. The interdisciplinary faculty group of Africanist and comparative scholars will focus on gender relations and the feminization of poverty in those groups who relocate to cities for better employment  but often encounter exploitation and risk. 

By combining narratives in the African languages these women speak with traditional statistical approaches, the scholars will seek alternative ways to reconcile the challenges of urbanization and attempt to help position these individuals as agents of their own identities and livelihoods. Columbia scholars Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities and Reinhold Martin, Associate Professor of Architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, will collaborate with scholars from the University of Ghana-Legon and the University of Nairobi. 

The working group will look at ways to combine qualitative knowledge with quantitative knowledge in a manner that highlights the real, impactful capacity of situated stories, narratives, and oral histories articulated by actual participants in these large-scale transformations.