Agenda: Special Issue on Southern Feminisms

deadline for submissions: 
March 18, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

CFP: Agenda Special Issue on Southern Feminismsby Z'étoile Imma

Please submit abstracts to or later than 18 March 2019.

See more info:

Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 30 years and raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agenda journal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer-reviewed journal.

GUEST EDITORS: Prof. Deirdre Byrne and Dr. Z’étoile Imma

Conceptual Rationale:
Gender politics in the twenty-first century have been marked by a proliferation of descriptives that precede the word feminism– neoliberal feminism, intersectional feminism, consumerist feminism, imperial feminism, trans*feminisms, digital feminisms, etc.

The call to qualify yet another may not be a feminist priority, however, as the fracturing of feminisms continues (as this list makes evident), this special issue is an attempt to recalibrate our attention to the feminist theorizing and praxis emerging from and centering the South.

While Southern Feminisms may be a straightforward synonym for feminisms of the Global South, locating the South is not a practice of mere geography. The terminology of the Global South is itself predicated on debates around history, power, borders, centers, and peripheries. The where and who of the Global South as it relates to feminism needs further study.

Indeed, for this special issue, we are invested in exploring the sites where the traditional mapping of the North/South axis might be complicated by transnational flows of activism and knowledge. Such flows might include the lives and work of feminists working in poor Black communities in Alabama; Sudanese migrant women demanding full inclusion in Sydney; lesbian and trans activists in South Africa drawing on the demands of “Black Lives Matter” for their movements; and intersectional gender activists in the US learning from the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements in South African higher education. If the Global South as a term indeed describes the “spaces and peoples negatively impacted by contemporary capitalist globalization” (Mahler 2018), how might thinking through the capacious possibilities within Southern Feminisms lead us to differently conceptualize the shifting locations of gendered violence, precarity, and vulnerability?

On the other hand, definitional debates should not obscure how the local in the global South matters materially and ideologically for many women and gender non-conforming people in the postcolonial contemporary. Drawing from their postcolonial standpoints, feminist critics and gender studies stalwarts from Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyèwùmí to Chandra Talpade Mohanty, have warned us of the dangers of generalizing gender as a category across space and time.

Given the sharpest edge of their interventions pointed towards white feminist saviour-scholars who engaged in a consistent erasure of Black and brown women’s embodied experiences, intellectual production, and radical feminist activism, we agree that a feminist “theorizing from the south requires both a divestment from the usual business of intellectual extraction that positions the global South as source of unprocessed data or ethnographic case study”(Piedalue and Rishi 2017). However, Mohanty, Oyèwùmí, Zine Magubane, Violet E. Barriteau, Pumla D. Gqola, and Mrinalini Chakravorty (for example), have demonstrated the ways in which feminists of colour can also reify single stories of women’s oppression. This leads to muzzling the particular and complex shapes of marginalization experienced – and resistance expounded – by different social formations of women and gender-nonconforming folk.

Furthermore, with the mainstreaming of women’s issues, intersectionality, and transnational feminism as a discourse in the South and North, how might we better redistribute our feminist resources, moving away from a primary focus on the digital savvy stories of highly exceptional and/or respectable women of colour toward a more inclusive analysis of Southern “everyday” feminists?

If the specificities of the caste/gender matrix as a force of domination in the lives of poor Dalit women and gender-nonconforming people in India, for example, do not travel with the same facility as the #metoo movement in India’s film industry does, how do we engage in practices that build sustainable connections beyond superficial and short-term performances of care? Which Southern-centered feminist theories, imaginaries, and visions for a liberated future will inspire and inform us as we do this difficult work?

Southern feminisms in conversation across and within national borders need to be theorized within an intersectional analysis of how class, race, caste, gender/sexual identity, and location shape the stakes of our scholarship and attempts at coalition. African feminisms are, despite ongoing marginalization from the North, well poised to offer readings of the limits and possibilities of solidarity as a Southern feminist praxis, given the historically transnational contours and continental expanse of feminist epistemologies from Africa.

No other feminist project has been as intentionally and self-reflectively transnational as African feminisms. Across the Atlantic, Latin American and Caribbean, feminist activist-scholars have fostered intraregional dialogue and survived ideological fissures in a series of conferences, Encuentros Feministas Latinoamericanas y del Caribe, that have continued to generate productive transborder feminist networks for over forty years (Alvarez et al 2003). Despite these contributions, editors of the recent Feminist Theory special issue on Southern feminisms, Raewyn Connell and Celia Roberts, argue that the global knowledge economy continues to privilege of Northern feminist theory. In fact, there is a long and august history of feminist thought and activism in the Global South that is simply not recognized in the global North and West. The colonial hegemonies which undergird academic Eurocentric feminism have been profoundly deconstructed and challenged by scholars from the South. Thus, we propose that Southern feminisms can benefit from a critical turn away from a Northern orientation, by analyzing African feminist contributions to Southern feminist thinking, as well as examining the impacts and legacies of Third World feminist movements, which several decades ago championed forms of radical anti-militarist and anti-capitalist South-to-South alliances that are pertinent in the context of state capture, carceral cultures, war economies, and climate imperialism today.

In seeking Southern feminist practitioners, we might turn with heavy hearts to feminist Marielle Franco, whose murder last year inspired an outpouring of rage and grief in Southern feminist communities.

Mourning Franco gave voice to long-standing, and catalyzed newly emergent, South-to South and global Black feminist solidarities. Franco’s intersectional-driven feminist activism for the rights of poor, marginalized, and non-normative communities in Brazil served as a reflection for the work many Southern feminists have been charged with for decades, while her murder served a grim reminder of the dangers of feminist work in many of our Southern homelands. Our collective grief for Franco was increasingly echoed throughout the Global South as the list of trans people, feminists, and woman human rights defenders of colour who were either murdered or have disappeared, tragically precedes and follows her burial. Facing the stark reality of multi-pronged violence against us while drawing strength from our feminist ancestors, the project of building the efficacy and archiving the legacy of Southern feminisms becomes a political imperative.

For this special issue of Agenda, the editors posit that there are as many feminisms in the Global South as there are contexts.

We welcome abstracts on any of the following topics:

● How might Third World feminists organizations, coalitions, collaborations, and failed solidarities of late twentieth century inform contemporary Southern feminist thought and practices?
● How do migrations, diasporas, borders, and incarceral states shape Southern feminist theory and praxis?
● How do the politics of difference, race, and anti-Blackness complicate Southern feminist solidarities?
● What is the relationship between global LBGTI rights movements and Southern feminisms?
● How have girls, girl-centered activism, girlhood studies contributed to Southern feminist futurities?
● What intergenerational tensions and fissures mark Southern feminisms?
● How has celebrity mobilised the mainstreaming of Southern feminisms?
● What emergent digital venues serve as a tool and site for Southern feminisms?
● How do Southern feminist navigate an increasingly NGO-driven and often Northern-funded civil society?
● How is affect –grief, rage, joy, and/or desire – a productive tool for building Southern feminisms?
● How do Southern feminisms articulate and draw from indigenous epistemologies and knowledge technologies?
● How do Southern feminisms attempt to decolonise the Southern (and Northern) academy?
● How do popular discourses of healing, self-care, choice, and pleasure impact and/or produce (new) Southern feminist activism?
● In what ways is environmental injustice, climate imperialism, and disaster capitalism propelling and catalyzing Southern feminisms?
● How do feminisms in and of the South differ from, and overlap with, feminisms in the North and West?


Alvarez, Sonia E., et al. “Encountering Latin American and Caribbean Feminisms.” Signs, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003, 537–579.
Barriteau, Violet Eudine. “Issues and Challenges of Caribbean Feminisms.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, no. 58, 2003, 37–44.
Chakravorty, Mrinalini. In Stereotype: South Asia in the Global Literary Imaginary. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
Roberts, Celia, and Raewyn Connell. “Feminist Theory and the Global South.” Feminist Theory, vol. 17, no. 2, Aug. 2016, 135–140.
Gqola Pumla Dineo. “How the ‘Cult of Femininity’ and Violent Masculinities Support Endemic Gender Based
Violence in Contemporary South Africa.” African Identities, 5:1, 2007,111-124.
Magubane, Zine. “Spectacles and Scholarship: Caster Semenya, Intersex Studies, and the Problem of Race in Feminist Theory.” Signs, vol. 39, no. 3, 2014, 761–785.
Mahler, Anne Garland. “Global South.” Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory, ed. Eugene O'Brien. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Boundary 2, 12/13, 1984, 333–358.
Oyěwùmí, Oyèrónké. The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Piedalue, Amy and Susmita Rishi. “Unsettling the South through Postcolonial Feminist Theory.” Feminist Studies, vol. 43, no. 3, 2017, 548–570.

Contributors are invited to submit manuscripts on the above topic from the point of view either of researchers or activists. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to or

No later than 18 March 2019

Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 30 years and raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agenda journal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer-reviewed journal.