I am a researcher and university professor and teach courses on gender and the politics of development development, militarism, feminist theory and methodology and women’s movements. I hold a tenured professorship as the Chair in Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and am currently serving as the Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women’s Leadership at Mills College in Oakland, California.
Most of my research work has been collaborative, involving teams of African researchers and activists working to develop and apply feminist principles and methods that aim to bring theory and activism together. I am currently developing a collaborative project on Gender, Militarism and Women’s Activism in the West African sub-region, and most recently completed research projects on African sexualities, and gender and institutional culture in African universities. As a full-time professor I use feminist pedagogies in the classroom, and contribute to developing political-intellectual communities of feminist thought and practice through projects like the Feminist Scholars Network, the Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) listserv, the journal Feminist Africa, and by working with colleagues on the development of a feminist curriculum for teachers in public universities.
The greatest external threat to women (and by extension humanity) is the growth and acceptance of a misogynistic, authoritarian and violent culture of militarism, in all its manifestations within the various institutions of the global capitalist military industrial complex, as these are variously iterated around the world. I think that the survival and well-being of women in Africa today is continuously threatened by the historically- sediment accumulations of misogyny that take many forms. This sustains the injustices meted out to women of all ages, bearing fruit in the exploitation of their bodies, and the wastage of their talents. This places an historic responsibility on those of us who live and live well. We challenge history every day that we do so. We need to be aware of this, while not succumbing to the potentially paralysing sense of guilt, collective trauma, internalized misogyny, and humiliation. The challenge is instead to make good of whatever opportunities we have to live graceful, peaceful, happy, ethical and generous lives in community with others.
As a feminist, I am dedicated to the liberation of women all over the world, but especially in the African contexts with which I most closely identify. I regard my life as a continuous process of seeking and learning and I try to infuse this principle in my professional work as a teacher and researcher, in my personal life, relationships and child-rearing practices, and in my activism and support for others sharing this vision.