PS 209 Global Feminisms

PS 209 Global Feminisms


PSCI 264W Global Feminisms

Brooke Ackerly, Fall 2008
Calhoun 303, Wednesday 1:10-3:40

Catalogue description: PSCI264W The study of feminisms from around the world, of feminisms transnationally,and of global politics through feminist lenses. Work on boundaries associated with sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, geography, identity, and membership. Focus on the ways in which systems of power – race, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism, genocide, slavery, and health – are interrelated. Fall [3] Ackerly.


264W and 271 are Political Theory courses that count toward the major (currently appearing on page 357 of the undergraduate catalogue).

Professor Brooke A. Ackerly

Office:Calhoun 316, 322-6231

Office Hours:Monday 9-10 (preference given to 103), Monday 1-2 (preference given to 264).

Coffee, Cookies and Conversation:Tuesday 3-4 (actually, bring your own coffee, I offer tea, cocoa, and sometimes soda)


Email of classmate 1:


Email of classmate 2:______

If you have any questions about course logistics that have been answered in a class that you missed or in the syllabus, you should address these to your classmates.

Email of Prof. Ackerly:. All assignments and correspondence with me should include your name and email address. (I receive approximately 100 emails per day, PLEASE put “PSCI 264” in the subject line. Delete “re” or “fwd;” I get TONS of those. I use a filter to put all of your messages in a particular folder so that I can attend to them.)

Key dates

There will be no extensions given without prior written request and consent. If your coursework is not completed on time, you may receive an incomplete.


Post to the blog:24 hours before class, 15 times

10 minute group presentation:on your country, September 17

10 minute group presentation:on women’s human rights in your country, October 8

Paper paragraphParagraph on what about your country is interesting to you, whenever you figure that out

10 minute group presentation:on human security, peace, nation-building in your country, October 29

10 minute group presentation:on women’s activism in your country, December 3

2 of 3 input papers dueNovember 17

Last input paper dueNovember 21

Abstract of rewritten paperDecember 2

Rewritten final paper December 9, 11:59 pm, under my office door

Paper due as an email attachment:December 9, 11:59 pm

Extra credit glossary due:December 9, 11:59 pm


Global feminisms is a burgeoning field of scholarship struggling to catch up with a century of feminist and women’s interests and activism. Global feminisms is an important area of inquiry in feminist research in all disciplines where feminism has a presence.

Why feminisms? Global feminisms is the study of feminisms from around the world, of feminisms transnationally,and of global politics through feminist lenses. Some feminisms defy geography; some are hyperconscious of geopolitics. The field is dynamic and at its best transdisciplinary. But it is a field with its own history of power. By referring to “feminisms”, we mean to be committed to noting the potential for power to obfuscate or silence difference.

Scholars in the field work on boundaries associated with sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, geography, identity, and membership. They are attentive to silence and marginalization, to citizenship politics (including migration, refugees, rights, and participation), to political economy (formal and informal), to society and culture, and to the environment (understood as the places where we live, work, play, and pray). Global feminist scholarship is making important contributions to many fields of study and to many ways of living.

In this course we will focus on theoretical insights – some coming explicitly from women thinking theoretically themselves,others coming from our theoretical reflections about the empirical insights of feminists. More specifically, we will focus on the ways in which systems of power – race, gender, sexuality, colonialism, imperialism, genocide, slavery, and health – are interrelated. We will do our best to challenge our own epistemologies and to use epistemology that is self-consciously reflective of its own incompleteness. (This is humility as scholarship and, combined with attentiveness to silences and marginalization, the core of a global feminist research ethic.) We will seek out ways of making ourselves know that which we cannot see or hear. We will challenge ourselves to find the empirical evidence for or against the generalizability of certain observations. And we will challenge ourselves to know the stories of people who are otherwise lost in statistics.


Summary of requirements and weighting:Blog (30%), four group presentations (30%) (lowest grade will be dropped), three input paper individually written thought pieces on a your country of focus that you use to work through ideas for your paper (5%), one abstract of your proposed paper (5%), one written and significantly rewritten final paper based on the work of the class presentations up to 20 pages (30%). Extra credit: glossary assignment (up to 5%).You are always responsible for all of the material through the date of the class assignment.


The blog is one opportunity to reflect on the readings, to stay up on the readings, to let me know how you are doing on the readings, to explore the relationship between the ideas of the readings and the insights you are gaining from your country research.

When to post. Post 15times during the semester at least 24 hours before class. If you need to miss class for illness, sports or any personal reason, submit an additional post for each missed class; these may be submitted before or after the class.

What to post. Post questions, reading summary, thesis idea, answer, comment, modification on someone else’s post, response to a comment on your post.

How will posts be graded?

Base points.

Question – 1 pt.

Reading summary – 2 pts.

Thesis idea – 5 pts.

Comment on a question or reading summary– 2 pts.

Comment on a thesis – 3pts.

Response to a comment on your thesis or question – 2-5 pts.

Value points

Restate – 0

Restate and offer evidence for the argument – 1pt.

Offer evidence and argument for an opposingargument – 1pt.

Link the topic of the course to a topic in the news or your country – 2pts.

Link the topic of the course to a topic in the news or your country and provide links to news coverage with one source – 3pts.

Link the topic of the course to a topic in the news or your country and provide links to news coverage in morethan one source or to scholarly argument on the topic – 4 pts.

Take the polemical statement of a classmate or external commentator and offer an argument – 5 pts.

Class discussion:Blog postings do not substitute for class participation, but rather are another way for you to engage with the course material.

Participating in discussion: Come to every class prepared. Listen to your classmates.

Some readings will seem “too” theoretical – use these to guide your inquiry into your country.

Class presentations:[*]

STEP 1: Form a group. Your group should have 2-3 people in it.

STEP 2: Select a country.

In theory, your group can choose to focus on any country in the world. However, in the end, I want to end up with a range of countries from various regions of the world. Having groups focus on a diverse range of countries will facilitate our ability to use the variety of information presented in class to explore patterns, differences and commonalities between countries.

The only other thing to consider as you select a country is that sufficient information in English must be available for you to complete all aspects of the assignment. Uganda and Bangladesh are VanderbiltUniversity sites of summer international service learning and service research. If you would like to participate in either of these programs, you should choose one of those countries.

STEP 3: Presentation #1, September 17ps, country presentation.

Your group will introduce the class to your country with a brief demographic, political and economic overview of your country, its colonial and post-colonial experience, its culture and big themes or issues of the women’s movement in your country. How old is the women's movement in your country?How is women's activism or feminism defined? What is the relationship between the women's movement in your country and the west? (If you cannot find answers to this yet, you will by your last presentation).

Each presentation will be no more than 10 minutes. You will be graded down if you can not present the necessary information in the allotted time.

STEP 4: Presentation #s 2, 3, 4 on women’s human rights;human security, peace, and nation-building; and women’s activism

At the end of each of the substantive sections of the course your group will make a 10 minute presentation to the class. This presentation will use the theoretical and analytical tools of the course readings to guide analysis of the situation in your countryand use your knowledge of your country to challenge the theory and analysis of the course readings.

In the final presentation on women's activism in your country you have an opportunity to talk about how groups have organized and around what issues they have done so. This is the place for you to highlight issues other than the ones we have discussed in class. In addition, you should think about to what extent and how women's organizations in your country have participated in the international women's/feminist organizing we have discussed.

General Guidelines for Presentations

You will have 10 minutes (on a stop watch) each time your group presents to the class. This means that your time will be tight and, as a result, your presentation will have to be well-organized in order to accomplish the assigned task.

You may use AV equipment, please give ample time to arrange what you need (days before) and then please make sure you give yourself time to test it BEFORE CLASS. Anything you use in class should also be posted in your country team's folder on Blackboard [click on the “Discussion Board” button in Blackboard and then in the “Country Presentations” folder]. If you plan to use the computer to aide in your presentation be sure and bring a copy of your presentation on disk as well as saving a copy of it onto Blackboard before you come to class. Finally, be sure to check and make sure that the file works. Individual technological problems are not a legitimate excuse for failing to complete the assignment at the designated time.

If you want to copy materials to hand out to the class, you need to get them to me by Friday morning before the date of the presentation.

All presentation materials must include proper citations. This includes all information presented in handouts or in Powerpoint. To save paper you can post your bibliography, handouts, presentations, to the blog.

Grading Presentations

I will grade each of your groups' presentations and those grades will be combined to form your final presentation grade. The day after your presentation you need to come to class with a filled out version of the "Presentation Evaluation Participation Form." This form is available in the “Course Information” section of Blackboard. The purpose of this form is for you to evaluate each group member's contribution to that day's presentation. I am using this form because I do not expect each of you to be equally involved in every aspect of each group presentation. In fact, I expect that you will divide the work up such that one or two of you will take primary responsibility for each presentation. However, I do expect each of the members of your group to be at least involved in the planning stages for each of the presentations. If you plan as a group, it is fine to divide up the subsequent work. Given that I expect you to do more work on some presentations and less on others, it is not a problem if you give yourself or someone else in your group a low number on the participation scale for any particular presentation. However, if you were to receive low numbers on all of the presentations and, for instance, the group's overall grade averaged out to a B+, you would not get a B+ on the final grade. Instead, you would receive a grade commensurate with the level of effort you put into the project.

3 input papers of 2-5 pages, posted to the blog

An input paper is a brief reflection piece on some of your research. You write this as you finish one bit of research and move onto another. This paper will be written individually but will build on the research that your group has done all semester.

Consider the boundaries associated with sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, geography, identity, and membership as they may be observed in your country. Pay attention to silence and marginalization, to citizenship politics (including migration, refugees, rights, and participation), to political economy (formal and informal), to society and culture, and to the environment (understood as the places where we live, work, play, and pray).

Input papers enable you to build toward your final paper.

The purpose of the final paper is for you to analyze women's activism in your country in light of the theoretical questions we read and discuss in class. The paper must present an argument and should not simply be written as a descriptive report about the women's movement in your country. A final paper which is simply descriptive will not receive a good grade! However, the input papers may be primarily descriptive, ending with questions that you intend to pursue and which might be the basis for your final paper.

The final paper should answer the following questions:

1) What contribution does women's activism in your country make to our theoretical understandings of feminism? What is important about women's/feminist activism in your country? What can we learn from women's/feminist activism in your country?

2) How is women's activism in your country similar to and different from the other countries you have heard about over the course of the semester? What patterns do you see across the countries and where and why does your country diverge or converge?

In writing the paper it is expected that you will use the information from your group presentations. However, you many not simply copy any prose used in one of your presentations--even if you wrote it for the presentation. Feel free to use the research and information, but do not plagiarize from the presentations.

All information used in the paper must be properly cited. This is true whether it originated from your research or was a reading assigned to the class. This syllabus models proper form. Consult the Chicago Manual of Style for form and me or the writing studio if you have any question about what needs to be cited. When in doubt, cite!

All papers must be submitted as attachments named “your-last-name paper date” (i.e., Smith paper 12-7-06).**See separate handouts on paper writing that are posted on Blackboard. Page lengths are exclusive of bibliography. Late papers are graded 1/3 off for every 24 hours past the deadline. Once you have done your research, you need to offer an argument informed by what you have found. The paper is short enough that your thesis should be clear in the first paragraph. Allow time for three drafts. You do not need to hand in the drafts, but you do need to hand in the input papers. Plan on the second draft being a major rewrite of the first draft, with a new thesis and new evidence, and new ways of putting your argument together. You could never have thought of these without writing that first draft.

The most common student comments in handing in their papers are
“This is the most important experience of my time at Vanderbilt” and

“I wish that I had started working on this sooner.”

But what I LOVE to hear most is “this is my best work.” I have designed the course and its assignments with the purpose of enabling you to do your best work and to have to know how you did it so that you can carry that skill forward into your next courses or career experiences.

A Final Paper (see above):
A final paper will be a significant re-write of the first paper and development of the work in your class presentation, your input papers, or will be a new original argument. Your final paper is expected to be 15-20 pages.

Extra credit glossary:You can get extra credit by creating a glossary of important words that includes: word, citation of who used it, short definition, two sentences meaning of the word or phrase in feminisms. You can generate your own terms from your individual journals and I will hand out a list of terms collected from your journals and class discussions.

Feedback on papers:Comments are entered using the comment function and track changes. If you cannot view these, please ask me to print the document for you. I spend a lot of time on your papers so that you can improve your writing. In my comments returned to you, text highlighted without comment contain some grammatical, word choice, or usage error. Getting these right are important for enhancing your argument. You may email me after the course to receive your comments on your final paper.

Countries in the readings:Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, India, Iran, Iraq, United States (Louisiana).

Office hours