On Our Own Terms: African Feminist Epistemologies in a Transnational Frame (5/31/05; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Pius Adesanmi
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"We will continue to define ourselves and our concerns on our own
terms", thus concludes Oyeronke Oyewumi's thought provoking introduction
to her recently edited volume, African Women and Feminism (2003). The
assertion underscores one of the most enduring predicaments of African
feminist epistemologies: the inevitable alterity of dominant Western
knowledge formations and their compulsive will to universality. Although
the detotalizations and despatializations of postmodernism, coupled with
the postcolonial's privileging of cultural pluralism, intermeshings, and
contingencies, have unsettled the bases of cultural/epistemological
authenticity, Oyewumi's phrase – "on our own terms" – suggests that
epistemological authenticity remains an atavism, easily invoked as
resistant praxis in the face of misrepresentation, appropriation and/or
occlusion by dominant, foreign knowledge systems. Although African
feminist knowledge systems, such as Obioma Nnaemeka's "negofeminism" and
Molara Ogundipe's "stiwanism", emerged out of the necessity of
addressing African female subjecthood and agency in the context of
transnational pressures and mediations, the persistence of authenticist
inclinations, even in the face of cyber-powered and media-induced
immediacy of global contact zones, necessitates a renewed inquiry into
the meaning, nature, modalities, possibilities, and even, desirability,
of an African feminist epistemology, fashioned "on its own terms" in an
unavoidably transnationalist context. To this end, the Holland-based
*Quest: An African Journal of Philosophy*, seeks theoretically grounded
and cross-disciplinary submissions for its Fall 2005 special issue on
African feminisms. Essays of between 6000 – 8000 words (MLA style) could
address any of the following necessarily inexhaustive areas: African
feminist epistemology as travelling theory – modalities, politics of
insertion, and terms of deployment in Western academe; African feminism
on its own terms – meaning, problems, prospects; the space of African
feminisms in Third World feminist discourses – in relation to Asian
(especially Indian) and Africana feminisms; African feminisms and the
competition for space with imported Western theories in African
Universities. Submissions should reach the guest co-editors by May 31,


Pius Adesanmi
Department of Comparative Literature
The Pennsylvania State University, USA
Email: piusadesanmi_at_fastmail.fm

Sanya Osha
Centre for Civil Society
The University of Natal, Durban, South Africa
Email: babaosha_at_yahoo.com
Pius Adesanmi, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
The Pennsylvania State University
311 Burrowes Building
University Park, PA 16802

814 863 4933 (office)

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Received on Sun Oct 24 2004 - 21:09:59 EDT