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Current Projects

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.

Social Rights After the Welfare State explores the implications of the declining welfare state for American politics, gender and race relations, and the future of American democracy. Some of the questions the working group will explore include: What will replace the welfare state? Is the idea of government support for social responsibility at a dead end? Is a continuing democracy threatened by limits on social rights? Will we see increased emphasis on marriage and family as the source of economic support?