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Religious traditions and institutions are regularly linked to gender violence (whether as explanations or solutions), yet there is very little examination of the terms under which those linkages occur. Why, when, and by whom is “religion” invoked in global responses to gender-based violence (GBV)? What roles are attributed to religion in these dynamic processes? What categories of the religious become seen as credible and acceptable, and are empowered as anti-GBV actors? What falls out in the international agenda governing violence against women/gender-based violence? This collaborative project explores the role of religion in naming, framing, and governing gendered violence. The three-year initiative, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, will mobilize the collective experience, expertise, and creativity of an international group of critical feminist scholars, practitioners, activists, and journalists, with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia.
Reframing Gendered Violence 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.