Women Creating Change

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Women Creating Change

Women Creating Change (WCC) draws together distinguished feminist scholars from across Columbia to focus on contemporary global problems affecting women and on women’s roles in addressing those problems. At the heart of WCC are working groups – scholars, students, practitioners, and socially engaged artists (filmmakers, dramatists, photographers) who meet in New York and at Columbia’s Global Centers with partners from across the world. Promoting networks of experts and activists that cross national and disciplinary borders, WCC envisions ethical and viable solutions to urgent problems concerning women, gender, and inequality. It also engages with other global networks and groups working to raise awareness of these problems, on campus and beyond, and is committed to the pursuit of social justice and a democratic future. WCC pursues research, teaching, writing and collaborative work that is necessarily interdisciplinary as well as comparative and transnational and that benefits from the rich resources and global perspective afforded by the Center for the Study of Social Difference (CSSD) and by Columbia University’s Global Centers.

Current Projects

Reframing Violence Against Women aims to open up a critical global conversation among scholars and practitioners that recasts the problem of violence against women as it is currently discussed in a wide range of fields, both academic and policy-oriented, including human rights, public health, journalism, law, feminist studies, literature, sociology, religious studies, anthropology, and history. The goal is to move the conversation on this crucial topic in new directions, pointing to elisions and exclusions in many common-sense understandings of these terms; deepening the ways in which we engage with the manifestations and causes of such violence; unpacking the politics through which accusations of GBV can sometimes be used to pathologize entire communities, societies or religious traditions, or to divert attention from more systemic and fundamental forms of abuse.

This project, which represents the workshop phase of an interdisciplinary, regional, consortial, Africa-led research endeavor, studies the rural-urban interface in Ghana and in Kenya, concentrating on the experience of women, youth, and men who inhabit this social and physical space. The research group includes colleagues at the Universities of Ghana-Legon and Nairobi as well as at Columbia and other New York-area institutions. The rural-urban interface or continuum extends from the rural to the towns and cities of the African continent. It is quite variegated and is characterized by a complex nexus of sites, including primary and secondary sites in relationships of gain and loss, dominance and subordination, associated in different ways with rural-to-urban migration.

How are gender relations impacted by material impoverishment and social segregation? Why do women suffer disproportionately from the social hazards of urban informality? This project addresses the global slum as the product of a complex interplay between the political economy of urban space, and the spatialization of social difference, especially gender/sexuality. Our project is especially interested in querying new aspirations around gender and consumption, the gender of poverty, new formations of informal labor and sex work, and emergent sites of violent conflict as these are remaking gendered relations of power.

Photo by Fatma Çelik“Women Mobilizing Memory” focuses on the political stakes and consequences of witnessing and testimony as responses to historical trauma. It probes how individual and collective testimony and performance can establish new forms of cultural memory and facilitate social repair. Using gender as an analytic lens, this project explicitly explores women's acts of witness and the gendered forms and consequences of political repression and persecution.