Research page

Gender, Sexuality, and Decolonization Resource Page

Over the course of the twentieth century, the world order was fundamentally transformed by the rise of decolonization movements in areas under European rule across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.  The history of these movements has often been told as a story of "Great Men," of the male intellectuals and activists who dominated nationalist organizations, political debates, and post-independence governments. But women were also critical actors in these movements, and the transformation from colony to independent nation-state had fundamental implications for the organization of gender and sexuality across societies.

This resource page seeks to capture these experiences and highlight the broader set of actors, wider visions, and deeper implications of decolonization.  The blog articles (written by Graduate Institute students) explore different themes in the history of gender, sexuality and decolonization, while the annotated bibliographies provide an overview of key academic works, organized by geographical region. The goal is to provide an introduction to this field for students, researchers, and anyone interested in these rich and complicated histories.


We will be posting new articles twice weekly, so check back shortly for new stories!





Annotated Bibliography


Asia                     East Asia | Southeast Asia | South Asia | Russia

                             Middle East

Africa                  North Africa | East Africa | West Africa

Americas            Latin America | Caribbean | North America


Theoretical Perspectives



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Rabindranath Tagore. 1917. Nationalism. New York: Macmillan Company.

The book by Tagore is a combination of different lectures that focus on the idea of Nationalism both in the context of the West and the colonial force of Asia, Japan. The book details the development of the concept of nationalism post-independence and the impact of both the legal residue of colonialism as well as the cultural influence that was brought through the western understanding of religion. The aim of the book is to differentiate society and nation, and he argues that the western model of nationalism is not applicable to the east. Tagore contends that nationalism destructs the human mind and is a work of the West. The creation of divisiveness through the means of dividing and conquering has left post-colonial countries struggling to pick up the pieces of their fragmented society and therefore emphasises the difference in understanding nationalism for these nations. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.

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East Asia


Themes: Same-sex marriage, Chinese and Taiwanese literature,

women writers, sexual and gender-based violence



Hildebrandt, Timothy. “Same-Sex Marriage in China? The Strategic Promulgation of a Progressive Policy and Its Impact on LGBT Activism.” Review of International Studies 37, no. 3 (2011): 1313–33.

By using an analysis of case studies in other LGBT-relevant issues in China like those concerning HIV/AIDS, as well as a comparison of policies in Taiwan and Singapore and social movements literature, Thomas Hildebrand argues that same-sex marriage legislation in China could be used strategically to improve the country’s external reputation in human rights. Further, he finds that when imposed from the top-down, same-sex marriage legislation incurs opportunity costs on activism and eliminates important issues around which a LGBT community often can develop. He states that “the right to marry will do little to challenge the large social pressures that make life difficult for the LGBT community in China” and emphasizes that there are little to no internal pressures for same-sex marriage in China (2011: 1330). Important quote: “Human rights issues are traditionally viewed in a linear, teleological way; the improvement of human rights is usually predicated on democracy, and assumes a natural hierarchical progression of one right to another. This might be a more effective way of guaranteeing that rights are upheld, but is not how rights are always granted.” Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Shen, Lisa Chu. “From Lolita to Fang Siqi: Sabotaging the Narrative of Rape across Cultures.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 62, no. 3 (May 27, 2021): 285–302.

This article explores the proactive role of the Chinese-language novel Fang Siqi’s Paradise of First Love in revealing sociality of rape, the dynamics of vulnerability, victimization, and agency. Using a comparative literature analysis between Fang Siqi and the work of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Shen argues that Fang Siqi presents the experience of rape and sexual violation in a way that challenges conventional rape-love discourse imbedded in Lolita. As Lolita depicts, rape is intricately connected with masculinity and is used to fulfil the discourse of loving the Rapist. However, Fang Siqi’ centres the victims of rape and articulates their trauma to the extent that almost nobody could ignore the rape incidents themselves or interpret rape to decriminalize the predators. The article finds that the work of Fang Siqi testifies to the resistance and agency of female voices, interrogating conventional love narratives of rape in male-dominated literary practices. Furthermore, it finds that Fang Siqi subverts masculinity beyond the literature practice and challenges not only the sexual violence against women but also the social system that constructed such violence. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.


Lu, Mei-Lien. “The Changing Status of Women in Taiwan: 1945-2010,” May 4, 2012.

This research examines the “economic, social, and political status of women in Taiwan from 1945 to 2010”. Applying a theoretical model of how women’s status is influenced by economic, cultural and political development, Lu uses quantitative analysis to test the hypothesis developed based on the model and evaluates Taiwan’s performance on major indicators of women’s status (“parliamentary representation”, “fertility rate”, and “labour force participation”) by regression analysis. Lu finds that, in the post-war era of Taiwan, although women’s status has been improved in “social conditions”, “human and social capital”, “economic activities”, and “political participation and power”, challenges persist, such as patriarchal gender norms. Lu calls for caution in terms of analyzing women’s status in its socioeconomic context. Even though the society might be experiencing transformation, modernization, and democratization, the local dynamics modified by the historical contexts, traditional gender norms could still shape the trajectory of the progress of gender equality. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.


Yang, Amanda. “Meritocracy and Marketization of Education: Taiwanese Middle-Class Strategies in a Private Secondary School.” LSU Doctoral Dissertations, March 9, 2021.

This article explores the middle-class response to education against the backdrop of modernization of Taiwan’s social structure and demography under globalization. The author applies a case study to examine education inequality through the lens of middle-class families’ school choices and the strategies to approach education. Additionally, Yang gathers qualitative information through interviews with school administrators and analyzes it by applying Critical Discourse Analysis and Thematic Analysis methods. Based on the theoretical frameworks of neoliberalism and Bourdieusian theories, “commodification” “competition” “choices” “capital” are the conceptual tools for analyzing how middle-class families adapt their education strategies in reaction to the marketization of education in Taiwan. Yang finds that the middle-class families of studied expect their culture could be reproduced not just at home but through education, in order to maintain or increase their social mobility through the accomplishment of educational qualification, sometimes private schooling. Yang calls for the policymakers to carefully examine their education policies aiming to improve the average educational levels in Taiwan and to provide alternative programs to prove that all professions are considered important to ease the academic anxiety faced by not only the middle-class families, but the public in Taiwan in general. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.


Jiang, Hong. “The Personalization of Literature: Chinese Women’s Writing in the 1990s.” China Review, vol. 3, no. 1, 2003, pp. 5–27. JSTOR, Accessed 22 Dec. 2022.

In the 1990s, the term “personalization” or “privatization” became very discussed in media circles, book markets, as well as in public conversation. In this article, Hong first analyzes the impact of the intellectual and cultural concepts, such as “personalization” “privatization” that are largely discussed in 1990, and how female writing has transformed by these concepts. Lu then proceeds to discuss how female writers achieve such transformation by their sensitivity to the changing surrounding of the “urban public sphere” and how the public space interacts with female private areas. Hong applies textual analysis and comparative analysis of three female authors’ work, including Wang Anyi. Hong argues that such transformation is achieved though the creation of a self-defined private space through a “sensual, “literary”, and “erotic” experience of urban space. Hong then, concludes that, from a perspective of knowledge production, the intellectual transformation enables female writers to write freely, which brought the increasing attention to them in the market. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.


Jonathan Stalling, Lin Tai-man, and Yanwing Leung “Contemporary Taiwanese Women Writers: An Anthology” Cambria Press. 2018.

This book presents prominent female writers’ work in contemporary Taiwan. The ten stories and one non-fiction work included in the book has different topics, such as “mother-daughter relationships”, marriage, “politics and gender”. These works are tied together by a common topic, the exploration of gender relations, but divided into different subtopics. For instance, Ping Lu and Liao Hui-ying depicts the “love-hate relationships between daughters and mothers”. Among the stories, three works, including “A Place of One’s Own”, demonstrate the literary interest on marriage in late 80s shared by many female writers. Sometimes, one story might have intersecting topics. For instance, "The Party Girl" (Lin Tai-man) focuses on marriage, as the young female characters strive for "elegance and taste," implicitly mocking a consumerist society and its values. The editor Jonathan Stalling says in the introduction of the book that each of the stories deals with heterogenous topics, but they all have a gendered exploration. This book invites further comparative studies on contemporary women writing between Taiwan and other regions in the world. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.



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South Asia


Themes: Women in politics, abduction, Gender and partition in India,

Urdu women writers, LGBTQIA lives,



Aamer Hussein, “The Good Doctor: Though Long Neglected in Translation, Rashid Jahan Blazed a Trail for Urdu Writers,” The Caravan, accessed December 19, 2022.

In this article for The Caravan, the Pakistani critic and short story writer, Aamer Hussein provides a critical review of Rakhshanda Jalil’s latest book, A Rebel and Her Cause: The Life and Work of Rashid Jahan, the first comprehensive English-language translated work of the Urdu writer and activist, Rashid Jahan. Along with providing an overview of the various pieces by Jahan included in the volume by Jalil, Hussein also helpfully situates Jalil’s intervention, reading Jalil alongside other works that have previously either directly engaged with or translated Jahan’s writings. On a whole Hussein deems A Rebel and a Cause as a laudable exercise, particularly praising Jalil for accompanying her translations with pertinent biographical vignettes and historical facts. One cavil however for Hussein is that what doesn’t completely come through in the translation is the distinct lucidity and precision that usually accompanies Jahan’s prose in the original Urdu. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Begum Khurshid Mirza, “My Sister, Rasheed Jahan, 1905-1952,” in A Woman of Substance: The Memoirs of Begum Khurshid Mirza, ed. Lubna Kazim (New Delhi: Zubaan, 2005), 86-105.

In this chapter that forms part of her broader memoirs, Begum Khurshid Mirza reflects on the life and work of her sister Rashid Jahan, one of the foremost Urdu activists and intellectuals of the 1930s and 1940s in India. Weaving her own personal recollections about Rashid Jahan with familial records and a larger account of the turbulent times that Jahan lived through, Mirza provides a complex and intimate portrait of Jahan, from her early days growing up in an upper-middle Muslim family, the heyday of her career as a writer, activist, and doctor, and finally to her untimely death in 1952. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Butalia, Urvashi. ‘Community, State and Gender: On Women’s Agency during Partition’. Economic and Political Weekly 28, no. 17 (1993): WS12–24.

This article explores the concept of agency in the aftermath of the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947. Butalia uses a variety of sources like legislative acts, memoirs and personal accounts to discuss the agency women could exercise when faced with, violence, abduction and recovery under State programmes. She divides her work into three sections - Community, State and Gender - to argue that women had limited agency in choosing their fate, and possibly felt pressured to take decisions guided by the community, the State or its agents (women social workers involved in their recovery), in a bid to protect their perceived pride and the honour of the community. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Butalia, Urvashi. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India. London: Duke University Press, 2000.

In this book, Butalia argues that most scholarship on the Partition at this time has concentrated on the high politics, i.e. State and its relation to the Partition and the subsequent effects on the State. Focusing on her own family history and interviews with women who were displaced during the mass migration and affected by the violence that came with Partition, Butalia highlights the missing voices of women, Dalit women and children. Butalia aims to write the stories of the women who experienced the partition, a side that, she argues, has been ignored largely by academia. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Carlo Coppola and Sajda Zubair, “Rashid Jahan: Urdu Literature’s First ‘Angry Young Woman,’” Journal of South Asian Literature 22, no. 1 (1987).

Bestowing upon her the epithet, Urdu literature’s “First Angry Young Woman”, in this article Carlo Copolla and Sajda Zubair provide a comprehensive overview of the life, work, and legacy of Rashid Jahan. For the authors, any evaluation of Jahan's work is incomplete without embedding her writings within the larger puritanical and patriarchal milieu in which she wrote. To that end the authors divide this article thematically, providing first a biographical sketch of Jahan’s life before moving to probe how her social and political milieu affected her literary work. The authors end with a critical re-appraisal of Jahan’s legacy, arguing that her importance lies in ushering a literary and political sensibility committed to correcting and re-adjusting the inequities that she witnessed during her lifetime. Apart from providing a well-structured introduction to Jahan, it is notable that the authors supplement Jahan’s own writings with a range of secondary sources like interviews and oral testimonies allowing them to re-construct her life from a diversity of perspectives. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Das, Veena. Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Through this book Veena Das explores various events in Indian history, like the Partition, and reframes them within anthropological terms. She explores how these events have transformed the conceptions of honour, purity and martyrdom. Not only does Das explore these transformations but also how these transformations have been appropriated by various actors, political, religious and women’s and caste groups. In the chapter on the Partition she explores the ideas of nation and nationhood through the experience of the women who were abducted and recovered by the State, and the status of the children they had with the men who had abducted them. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Geeta Patel, “Homely Housewives Run Amok: Lesbians in Marital Fixes,” Public Culture 16, no. 1 (January 1, 2004): 131–158.

The primary argument presented by Geeta Patel in this paper is that different constructions of national identity within South Asia, whether colonial, postcolonial, or diasporic have all historically been rendered and registered through the passive, homely, and domesticated figure of the “woman.” Arguing for the need to resist this figuration, Patel analyses two aberrant instance of resistance to this figuration. Taking Ismat Chughtai’s fictional writings and a case of same-sex marriages between two policewomen in India, Patel explores what it might mean to understand the figure of the “woman” not through circulations of the domestic which is inevitably marked by heterosexual desire, but as unhomely, amok, and deviant. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Hamida Saiduzzafar, “JSAL Interviews DR. HAMIDA SAIDUZZAFAR: A Conversation with Rashid Jahan’s Sister-in-Law, Aligarh, 1973,” Journal of South Asian Literature, 22, no. 1 (1987): 158–65.

An interview conducted by the Journal of South Asian Literature with Hamida Saiduzzafar, in 1973, Rashid Jahan’s sister-in-law and close friend, and published in their journal in 1987. The interview primarily revolves around re-constructing the life of Rashid Jahan, in particular by understanding the various influences that different people and events had on Jahan throughout her life. Responding to prompts given by the interviewers, Hamida Saiduzzafar provides a first-hand perspective of what it was like to not only know, but to also to be a close friend of Jahan. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Ismat Chughtai, ISMAT CHUGHTAI: A talk with one of Urdu’s most outspoken woman writers, interview by Mahfil, 1972.

In this frank and candid interview with the journal Mahfil, the famous Urdu feminist writer Ismat Chughtai recollects what led her to become a writer, her political commitments, and the reasons why, as she sees it, her work gained the prominence that it did. Apart from being one of the few and rare interviews available of Chughtai, the interview spans her reflections on a diverse range of topics that consistently blur the distinction between the public/private and consequently provide some important insights into the mind and lives of one of the most influential feminist writers of South-Asia. The topics covered by the interview include: her experience of growing up in Aligarh; marriage; pregnancy; colonial rule; the English novel; religion; ideology; and the political economy of publishing.  Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Ismat Chughtai, “We People (Humlog),” in My Friend, My Enemy: Essays, Reminiscences, Portraits, trans. Tahira Naqvi (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 2001), 101-110.

Part of a larger collection which assembles Chughtai’s non-fictional writing, this autobiographical essay written in Bombay in 1970 provides a personal and vivid narrative of Chughtai’s early life. Chughtai starts by recounting how from an early age she indulged in activities traditionally reserved for boys, like playing football and hockey. She also writes at length about her favourite Azim Bhai who first taught her English and Geography and introduced her to the world of stories. Motivated by Azim Bhai, Chughtai reminisces how she wanted to make a living out of reading and writing and pursed a B.A in literature with this in mind. She recounts however that her definite literary and political awakening came when she first met Rashid Jahan, whose boldness convinced her that real literature was not about mere sentimentalism but always and inherently political. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Menon, Ritu, and Kamla Bhasin. ‘Recovery, Rupture, Resistance: Indian State and Abduction of Women during Partition’. Economic and Political Weekly 28, no. 17 (1993): WS2–11.

This article uses parliamentary debates, memoirs of women social workers and official records to explore the Abducted Person’s (Recovery and Restoration) Act of 1949 and its predecessor, the Inter-Dominion Treaty of 1947, and the ramifications on the women who were recovered under the aegis of this Act. Menon and Bhasin argue that the State represented itself as the guardian of the abducted women and their recovery became a question of national honour. They highlight the lack of agency coded into the Act by focusing on the debates that preceded it, and the accounts of the social workers who were tasked by the State with recovering women from across the border. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Pandey, Gyanendra. Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

This book analyses the violence that accompanied Partition of 1947 and they ways in which it is remembered. Gyanendra Pandey looks closely at the manner in which Partition history has been written and argues that Partition history writing and memory making are employed as a means of community building. He critiques the manner in which Partition history is written, exploring questions on the nature of violence and memorialisation of violence. He explores the manner in which the Partition violence has transformed in meaning over the years commenting on the manner in which events are interpreted through time and the way these interpretations are used for nation-building. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Pandey, Gyanendra. ‘The Long Life of Rumor’. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 27, no. 2 (2002): 165–91.

This article explores the role of rumours in the memory and history writing of the violence that followed the Partition on British India. Pandey examines three types of sources, primary, like newspaper articles and First Information Reports; secondary, the reports of the officials and politicised writing of the violence; and tertiary which he says is history writing per se. He argues that history writing of the Partition is largely still stuck in the trap of these rumours and conflations, and when analysing them it is not about establishing the truth of these claims but understanding how much of history writing is dependent on these rumours. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Panigrahi, Devendra. India’s Partition: The Story of Imperialism in Retreat. London: Routledge, 2004.

This book explores the events that led to decolonization in British India, and the Partition of 1947. Panigrahi offers special focus to the role Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League played in the creation of Pakistan and argues that an analysis of the events preceding Partition shows that it was not inevitable, but a consequence of a series of events that occurred, and decisions that were taken, in Britain and British India. He uses a mixture of personal correspondence, official records and memoirs to trace the last few years of colonization in the continent and examines how it all led to the split between the territories, a conclusion that was not or favoured, but accepted as the best possible option at the time. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.


Priyamvada Gopal, Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation, and the Transition to Independence (New York: Routledge, 2005).

In this book, Priyamvada Gopal taking as her study the writings, films, and pamphlets of key individuals associated with the Progressive Writers Movement (PWM), the most influential literary movement of the 20th century in India. The author examines the connection between literary subjectivity, political consciousness, and representation. While each chapter is framed around tracing how these connected themes manifest within the work of one particular writer or artist, a common theme that Gopal emphasises with particular nuance throughout her book is the importance of gender and sexuality in the construction of the different cultural discourses that the various people she study articulate. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Rakhshanda Jalil, “Rashid Jahan: The Bad Girl of Urdu Literature,” The Friday Times, January 2012.

This article provides a biographical introduction to the life, work, and legacy of Rashid Jahan. Organised chronologically, Jalil traces Jahan’s life from growing up as a young girl in Aligarh to her untimely death in Moscow in 1952. Working with Jahan’s own writings and the accounts of those close to Jahan, Jalil constructs an intriguing narrative that details the different people, ideas, and movements that moulded and shaped Jahan. Throughout, Jalil shows how a concern with gender and sexuality came to not only mark Jahan’s writings but also her political commitments. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Rashid Jahan, “In the Women’s Quarters,” in Angaaray, trans. Snehal Shingavi (Gurgaon: Penguin Random House, 2014), 111-134.

In this one-act play, Jahan introduces her readers to a conversation between Mahmudi Begum and Aftab Begum, two well-to do Muslim women discussing the oppressiveness of family life. Although Aftab tells Mahmudi that she is lucky as unlike her she at least has a husband, Mahmudi, who is the younger of the two complains how she has been expected to have a child every year since she has gotten married and the toll that this has taken on her body. Even though her doctor has warned her against having repeated pregnancies Mahmudi’s husband refuses to abstain, and threatens Mahmudi, telling her that if she resists his advances, he will marry another woman for he needs a woman to cater to his sexual needs on all days. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Rashid Jahan, “Seeing the Sights in Delhi,” in Angaaray, trans. Snehal Shingavi (Gurgaon: Penguin Books, 2014), 105-110.

In this short story by Rashid Jahan, the protagonist Malika Begum relates her experience of an uneventful trip to Delhi made with her husband. Although the trip originally resulted in a lot of excitement, once the couple arrive in Delhi, the husband leaves Malika to go meet a male friend, leaving her in her burqa to look after the luggage at the train-station. The rest of the story deals with the (physical and emotional) ordeal that Malika has to go through waiting for her husband to return in the scorching heat and amidst the leer of other men. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Rashid Jahan, “Woh (The One),” in Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present, Volume II: The Twentieth Century, ed. Susie Tharu and K. Lalita (New York: The Feminist Press, 1993),119-122.

In “Woh”, Rashid Jahan stages an unlikely encounter between a young and idealistic upper-middle-class female doctor and a prostitute suffering from venereal disease. The story describes the different prejudices and emotions the young doctor confronts as she attempts to treat the prostitute. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Raza Mir and Ali Husain Mir, Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry (New Delhi: Roli Books, 2006)

Raza Mir and Ali Husain Mir’s Anthems of Resistance details the tradition of political resistance nurtured by a generation of poets, writers, and artists in the South-Asian subcontinent, especially as it was institutionalised within the aegis of the Progressive Writers Movement (PWM). Conceptualised as a valorisation of this aesthetic and political movement, Anthems of Resistance provided a lucid account of the history of this literary movement and tradition, and in doing so also provide a highly accessible transliteration of some of the major poems associated with its members. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Shadab Bano, “Rashid Jahan’s Writings: Resistance and Challenging Boundaries, Angaare and Onwards,” Indian Journal of Gender Studies 19, no. 1 (February 2012): 57-71.

In this article, Shadab Bano seeks to draw out through a reading of Rashid Jahan's fictional writings her distinct feminist concern with social justice. Reading a variety of Jahan’s fictional work from her seminal interventions in the collection of Urdu short stories Angaare to her later work like “Aurat” and “Woh”, Bano shows how for Jahan, the “political” and “literary” were inextricably inter-related. Further, Bano shows how the issues of equality and solidarity were central to Jahan’s political-literary agenda. However, and as Bano argues this did not mean that Jahan uncritically advocated for women’s rights by recourse to abstract and liberal notions of equality and freedom. Instead, and as Bano shows, Jahan’s writings are consistently marked with an attention to particularity and the ways in which themes of gender and sexuality intersect with different bodies differently. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Snehal Shingavi, “Introduction,” in Angaaray (Gurgaon: Penguin Books, 2014), vii-xxiii 

In his introduction to the English-Translated collection of short stories Angarey, an explosive collection of Urdu short stories whose writers were seeking to initiate a new and radical trend in Urdu literature, Snehal Shingavi helpfully contextualizes the political and intellectual motivations that initially led its writers to publish Angarey. Along with providing a brief description of the stories contained in the volume, Shingavi traces how the writers of Angarey were seeking to push beyond the mere rhetoric of reform by politicizing Urdu literature. To this end, and as Shingavi argues, for the Angarey group this meant moving from the aristocratic and formal language of the Urdu novel and towards the more colloquial language of the ordinary and everyday, represented in the group’s view by the short-story format. In addition, and turning to the colonial documents from that period, Shingavi also explores the wave of protests that were unleashed by various conservative forces in response to the publication and the confident and defiant response of the targeted writers to this criticism. Annotated by Devarya Srivastava.


Virdee, Pippa. ‘Negotiating the Past’. Cultural and Social History 6, no. 4 (1 December 2009): 467–83.

This article explores the issue of Partition from the point of view of the Muslim women in West Punjab who were abducted and rehabilitated. Pippa Virdee primarily relies on a combination of official records, newspapers articles and the testimonies of the women to understand how women who were at the forefront of the violence of Partition, especially the women who were abducted and recovered are viewed in the official records and in their own testimonies, whether as victims or actors with their own agency. Virdee maintains that the experience of Muslim women in Pakistan who were affected by the violence has been shrouded in silence, in favour of their male counterparts, and attempts to understand their history and give a voice to their experiences. Annotation by Aishwarya Agarwal.




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Southeast Asia


Themes: Malay nationalism, LGBTQIA activism, Islam



Adam, Ashman. 2021. “Assigning 122 Islamic Enforcers for Nur Sajat Witchhunt Overzealous, Says Transgender Rights Group | MalayMail. Www.malay February 27, 2021.

The source informs the audience of the charges towards Nur Sajat and the reasoning behind those charges. Quoting a local LGBTQ+ organisation as well as the penal code of Malaysia, the source aims to provide a balanced overview of the opinions of the population and legislation of the country. While it is a newspaper source, it uses direct quotes from reliable sources and those who are informed about the social and political context of the country. The source Malaymail is a popular source in the country, but given that it is mainly written in English, some critics argue that it is more liberal and reflects and publishes articles that are more “western” in nature. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Ayamany, Keertan. 2021. “In NYT, Nur Sajat Alleges Molest during Jais Arrest, Says Officer Told Mum OK to Sexually Assault ‘Man.’” Malay Mail. October 20, 2021.

The source shows the treatment of transgender individuals by state security actors and the disregard for their gender identity. Through the article, the author aims to highlight that this mistreatment is not a singular case and that this is something that often happens in prisons and holding areas. The quote from the victim, Nur Sajat, highlights how the author wanted to amplify her voice and show the seriousness of the crimes committed against her. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Goh, Joseph. 2014. “Trans*Cending Tribulations: Malaysian Mak Nyahs.” New Mandala. February 10, 2014.

This article by Goh gives a brief insight into the history of Malaysian Mak Nyah. Through a small historical retelling, he defines and informs the reader of their status and acknowledgement within society prior to the rise of Islamification in Malaysia. The article writes about previous attitudes towards the group by both the local population and royal heads of state and how these groups worked together to develop the nationalistic goals of the state. The article also speaks about the recent work the Mak Nyahs are doing and calls for increased tolerance and respect for the group. The article articulates how some Malay-Muslim Mak Nyahs are also reclaiming their rights as Muslims, and their lived experiences attest to how they reconstitute Islamic tenets in ways that affirm their gender identity. The source uses independent academic sources, with no political affiliation to any state government, which allows for articles to be published without bias. However, there is a concern that as the articles are not necessarily written by those from the region, there might be a lack of cultural understanding or social context understanding. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Government of Malaysia. 2018. “LAWS of MALAYSIA ONLINE VERSION of UPDATED TEXT of REPRINT Act 574 PENAL CODE.”

This source gives insight into the laws of Malaysia implemented by the government. For this source, it was quite straightforward as it is a book of penal codes. The latest update of the penal codes was in 2018, which is interesting given that that was the year that the ruling government changed for the first time since Malaysia’s independence. The source was important to understand the legislation in place that penalises homosexuality and forms legal constraints against the LGBTQ community. Through direct quotation of the penal code in the blog post, it is easy for us to understand the issues regarding the interpretation of the code, and its subsequent legal implications for the LGBTQ community, in particular gay men in Malaysia. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


heikeschmidt. 2021. “The Criminalization of Homosexuality in Colonial History, by Dr Joseph O’Mahoney | Gender History Research Cluster.” (blog). June 17, 2021.

The analysed source by Heikeschmidt on O’Mahoney and Han describes the impact of colonial laws on local nations’ diverse sexualities and genders, and the subsequent continuation even after independence. The historical recollection of laws and the history of these ex-colonies brings us face-to-face with the complex nature of human social reality. This is particularly the case in understanding the impacts of the British Empire, due to the wide differences in local contexts. The authors looked at legal history and compared different penal codes and found that the criminalisation of homosexuality is a direct impact of British colonial law. They also used other local factors such as economic development and religion to understand the current attitudes toward the community amidst the rising levels of acceptance and tolerance. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Ho, Vivian. 1998. “Malaysian Group Launches Antigay Movement.” October 21, 1998.

The article was posted at the height of Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial and raises the question if it was a direct political attack on an individual or the LGBTQ community at large. The article spoke about how the anti-gay movement was described as a public warning regarding the health and moral danger of homosexuality, citing the AIDS epidemic as the main influencer. The article notifies us of the main recommendations of the movement, namely stiffer laws for the LGBTQ community and the places that they frequent. While the article is clear and concise, it was written in 1998 and updated only in 2004, meaning that it is quite outdated. As Anwar is now the Prime Minister of Malaysia, it is interesting to see the political impact this scandal had on him and what he will now do in regard to the LGBTQ community now during his time as Prime Minister. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Jun, Soo Wern . 2021. “Report: Nur Sajat Arrested in Bangkok.” Malay Mail. September 20, 2021.

The newspaper source gives a brief introduction to Nur Sajat and the reasons why the Malaysian government is obsessed with her. It gives a small historical account of her “crime” of 2018 and the penalties she has faced after. The news article draws on Syariah law reference, given that Muslims in Malaysia are also subjected to it, to show readers on what grounds Nur Sajat is apparently wanted. The aim of the article is to highlight the breach in respecting human rights protection given by the United Nations. However, the tip about her arrest was given by an anonymous source, leading to questions of credibility. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Manalastas, Eric Julian, Timo Tapani Ojanen, Beatriz Torre, Rattanakorn Ratanashevorn, Bryan Choong Chee Hong, Vizla Kumaresan, and Vigneswaran Veeramuthu. 2017. “Homonegativity in Southeast Asia: Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

The source aimed to understand how the LGBTQ community is perceived in different Southeast Asian societies. The research uses nationally representative survey data using combined data from the World Values Survey. The survey managed to get responses from 9182 respondents from across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Considering both the limited range of countries and the limited number of participants, there are questions of credibility and generalisability. The data, however, has led to understandings regarding degrees of tolerance in the different Southeast Asian countries and explored correlates of homo-negative attitudes in each country using other factors such as gender, education levels and the impact of religion. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Ngu, Sarah. 2019. “Some Asian Governments Claim LGBTQ Culture Is a Western Invention: Here’s Why That’s Garbage.” June 6, 2019.

The source delves into the diverse gender sphere that Southeast Asia used to have prior to the impact of colonisation. The source highlights examples from different Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Through her article, Ngu contends that sexual diversity was not a norm in the region prior to colonisation and that the rise of restrictive laws that curb sexual freedom and diversity were adopted by local state authorities. It is the combination of patriarchal nationalism and colonial history that has led to the development of these homophobic laws. Ngu illustrates the ways in which pre-colonial Southeast Asian forms of gender expression took form in different countries in the region and calls for increased tolerance and respect towards the LGBTQ community now. The only critique of this source was that the book used to inform a lot of the information provided was by a non-Southeast Asian, thus bringing into question if the book author has exaggerated or diminished the importance of certain facts and if they have a more western understanding of the phenomenon. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Shamsul, A. B. (2004). A history of an identity, an identity of history: the idea and practice of "Malayness" in Malaysia: reconsidered. In T. P. Barnard (Ed.), Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity across boundaries. (pp. 135 - 148). Singapore University Press.

In an attempt to understand how "Malay-Malayness" as a social identity came to be, researchers in the mainstream of Malaysian history have employed ethnicity theories based on identity politics, the belief that ethnic features are intrinsic, both in the person and the "ethnicity" as a social group. Instead, it suggests that Malay ethnicity is learnt or formed and that Malay-Malayness was established as a result of the intersection of historical, cultural, and social aspects during a certain period in a culture's history and life. Indeed, most scholars in postcolonial Malaysia, both Malays and non-Malays, have naively absorbed the construction of Malay-Malayness that colonial historiography made. The source was crucial in understanding the development of the Malay-Muslim identity and the patriarchal aspect of how this identity was formed and subsequently adopted. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.


Shogo, Ismail. 2017. “Tackling Sex Re-Assignment Surgery in Malaysia.” New Mandala. April 7, 2017.

In this blog post, Ismail Shogo outlines the Malaysian state's stance on sexual reassignment surgery and aims to understand the rationale behind the fatwa issued that saw the removal of this service by the government in 1983. The post gives a small insight into the fact that Malaysia used to be one of the only SEA countries to provide this surgery and had gender reassignment hospitals funded by the government. He delves into the religious understanding of gender and how the rise of Islamification in the early 1980s led to the decrease in “queer tolerance” by Malaysian society. In the blog post, he contends that understanding the state's opposition to sexual reassignment and the greater transgender population requires distinguishing between theology and Malaysia's own politicised version of Islam. Analyses of Islam and sexual reassignment may be better placed when viewed via the Malaysian political prism. He also highlights that non-Muslims who want to undergo sexual reassignment surgery face the same political barriers, indicating that the politics around sexual reassignment are constrained by the religious views of those in power. Annotated by Samantha Khoo Su Yen.




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Themes: Abortion and birth control, family law, Soviet Union



Denisov, B. P., and V. I. Sakevich. "An outline of the history of birth control in Russia: a wandering population policy." Demographic Research 23 (2014): 186. [Денисов, Б. П., and В. И. Сакевич. "Очерк истории контроля рождаемости в России: блуждающая демографическая политика." Демографические исследования 23 (2014): 186.]

In this article the authors describe the fertility transition in the Soviet Union and Russia in terms of the immediate determinants within the theory of demographic transition. Within this framework the authors provide an analysis of the transition that occurs between traditional and modern societies as well as the conditions for fertility transition. The pro-natalist policies of the USSR are an attempt to control two immediate determinants which are abortion and contraception.  The authors trace these two fertility factors across the seven divided periods separated from each other by political upheavals, legalization and prohibition of abortion, support and rejection of support for family planning. Based on their analysis they conclude that almost all possible approaches have been tried by state policy in the field of birth control, but without much success. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Glass, Becky L., and Margaret K. Stolee. "Family Law in Soviet Russia, 1917-1945." Journal of Marriage and the Family (1987): 893-902.

This article analyzes the different Family Law codes passed between 1917 and 1945 to assess whether the Soviet government intended to actually abolish the family. Glass and Stolee argue that the changes in family laws require an understanding of the complex relationship between the laws and social change. The author argues that three perspectives existed within the socialist state in terms of dealing and doing away with the family: the State as a replacement for the Family, the State and the Family sharing responsibility and children as the link between the State and the Family. But despite this ambition and plan the Bolsheviks were not prepared for the post-revolutionary society. In addition, the leaders who were interested in the family were either dead or discredited leaving the powerless to resolve the issue. The rapid and drastic changes in the policies had negative consequences as they went from one extreme to the next and in turn the Soviet state was unable to change the behavior of its citizens. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Information and historical portal 1922-91. “Photoarchive of the USSR, On the Photo: Poster - Agitation. Sexual Question 20s, Year 1922.” [Информационно-исторический портал 1922-91. “Фотоархив СССР, На Фотографии: Плакат - Агитка. Половой Вопрос 20-е Годы, Год 1922.”]

The website is an “archive” of collected memories, biographies, photos, documents and folklore. This particular agitation poster I used to depict the sexual issues of the dawn of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. In the twenties, sexual revelry captured primarily young people. Family and marriage were declared bourgeois relics. Komsomol members were especially distinguished. If a Komsomol member refused to sleep with a friend, she was condemned and declared a bourgeois. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Liu, Caimiao. "Stalin’s “New Soviet Woman”." Sociology Mind9, no. 4 (2019): 247-257. 

Liu argues that research on the transformation of Soviet women lacks a feminist perspective, as it typically compares the same group at various points and in different historical contexts without using element of feminism as a criterion.  Therefore, in her paper, Liu focuses on the cultural icon of the "New Soviet Woman" as an indicator of the feminist progress promoted by Stalin. The Soviet women were free from all restrictions on children and property in the dissolution of marriage. They received the right to freely choose a profession, place of residence, education, as well as the right to equal pay for equal work with men. But these freedoms and rights were short-lived and shifted away from true feminism. Liu concludes from her paper that in accordance with the original ideological guidelines of official propaganda, the "New Soviet Woman" was required to carry out dual roles – "workers" and "mothers". Throughout the years of the existence of socialism, these roles remained obligatory for her. They provided her with the status of a citizen. With industrialization accessible labor was needed. Women served primarily for economic development and military training.  Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Randall, Amy E. "Abortion will deprive you of happiness!": Soviet Reproductive Politics in the Post-Stalin Era." Journal of Women's History 23, no. 3 (2011): 13-38. doi:10.1353/jowh.2011.0027.

The article examines the reproductive politics of the post-Stalin era. Randall uses archival sources, public health material and journals to analyze the abortion campaign. The article dives legalizing abortion was followed by a powerful campaign condemning abortion and educating women and men on the dangers of abortion, whether medicalized or illegal. Through these educational programs and campaigns, the state sought to control the rates of conception and birth and promote its pronatalist agenda. The author argues that due to the pressures and education to reject abortion women lost their reproductive autonomy while the campaigns disciplined the behavior of Soviet citizens. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Sakevich, V. I. "What happened after the ban on abortion in 1936." Demoscope Weekly 227-228 (2005). [Сакевич, В. И. "Что было после запрета аборта в 1936 году." Demoscope Weekly 227-228 (2005).]

This analysis focuses on the implementation and consequences of the abortion ban in the USSR from 1936 to 1955. Initially, the ban led to a decline in abortions and an increase in births, but this effect was short-lived due to the availability of birth control methods. Illegal abortion practices, including self-induced abortions and paid services, became prevalent, often leading to incomplete procedures and septic conditions requiring hospitalization. Both medical professionals and non-medical individuals were involved in performing these illegal abortions. The strain on healthcare resources, particularly maternity hospitals, resulted in increased mortality rates for both newborns and women in labour. Alongside the rise in illegal abortions, infanticides also increased. The prosecutor's office intensified its efforts against infanticide, leading to a rise in identified cases. Factors contributing to infanticide included resistance to socialist measures, unwillingness to have children, and societal pressures. Indirect evidence, such as the proportion of child murders, indicated a significant increase during the study period. Overall, the abortion ban had negative consequences, including the proliferation of illegal abortion practices, heightened mortality rates, and an increase in infanticide cases, shedding light on the ramifications of such policies. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Selezneva, Ekaterina. Struggling for new lives: Family and fertility policies in the Soviet Union and modern Russia. No. 355. IOS Working Papers, 2016.   

Selezneva illustrates the principal steps that the Soviet and Russian government took to improve the demographic issue through family formation models and fertility levels from 1917 to 2015 by providing a long-term systematic overview of the policies which regulate fertility and the family sphere. Due to wars and famine the Soviet Union faced devastating human losses. Although women were given equal rights, their roles as reproducers always remained. According to Selezneva, the Soviet state assigned women three roles – social and political activists, workers and caregivers and mothers – which shifted in significance throughout the century. Therefore, the author provides a detailed the overview of the marriage and divorce regulation, support of families through family benefits and the tax system, reconciliation of family and work spheres, fertility promotion, childbearing and childcare support, as well as rare reproductive health protection initiatives to illustrate the shifts and reasons for these demographics policies. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Soltz A.A. (1937). Abortions and alimony. Trud, April 27, No97. [Сольц А.А. (1937). Аборт и алименты. Труд, 27 апреля, 97.]

Trud was the press organ of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. The first issue was on February 19, 1921, in Moscow. Under the Soviet state, the paper published the work of famous writers and poets. It emphasized labor and economic analyses and included official decrees and orders. In the particular issue which was published after abortion was banned touched on the issue of abortion. Aaron Soltz, conscience of the Party, wrote on the issue of abortion with the underlying notions of the need of workforce. He insisted that in the new socialist reality abortion is no longer needed because life has become happy, rich and with many demands. Because of the growth of everyday demands the Soviet state “needs people” through birth of children which is “the greatest happiness of motherhood”. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.


Talaver, Sasha. “When Soviet Women Won the Right to Abortion (For the Second Time).” JACOBIN, August 3, 2020.

The article summarizes the abortion policies as well as the social feminists’ path to victory against the abortion ban. Talaver argues that because many view feminism as a Western borrowing, the story of the achievements of Soviet women are forgotten. Because the Soviet state was a top-down state where people obeyed orders, it left no room for women in their struggle for their rights. An important figure introduced by the author who was able to achieve the legalization of abortion was Maria Kovrigina. Kovrigina's text was presented as a defense of motherhood and childhood. For this reason, researchers see state feminists often masking Party interests as feminist agendas, which shows the limited capacity of women to make decisions. But despite this view the author believes that activists like Kovrigina acted independently because the Soviet vision of gender equality made political activism for women possible. Annotated by Sanifa Shirinova.




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Middle East


Themes: Religion and politics



Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ‘Hijab in Iran: From Religious to Political Symbol’. Accessed 5 December 2022.

This blog article analysed the ongoing protest in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini from two aspects: Iranian women’s struggle for freedom of choice and the anti-government movement. The prominent role of women in the movement, its diverse geographic spread, and the support from almost all social classes makes this protest different from previous ones. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.



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Themes: Gender in/and war, Decolonization



White, Aaronette M. ‘All the Men Are Fighting for Freedom, All the Women Are Mourning Their Men, but Some of Us Carried Guns: A Raced‐Gendered Analysis of Fanon’s Psychological Perspectives on War’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32, no. 4 (June 2007): 857–84.

White questioned Fanon’s optimistic view on the psychological potential of revolutionary violence by drawing upon firsthand accounts of the anti-colonial war experiences of African female ex-combatants, government documents, human rights organizations’ reports, and current psychological research on the effects of military combat. The author argued that the war and military itself are patriarchal and perpetuate violent injustices against women. Often times there is a sexual division of labor within the army. The torture, rape and abduction of women by the enemy and their fellow male combatants is also traumatizing for the female combatants. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.



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North Africa


Themes: Algerian independence, Islam, women in politics



Amrane, Djamila, and Farida Abu-Haidar. ‘Women and Politics in Algeria from the War of Independence to Our Day’. Research in African Literatures 30, no. 3 (1999): 62–77.

Drawing from memoirs, journals and other secondary sources, this paper links women who fought in the Algerian War of Independence with women who demonstrated in the streets for gender equality in the 1990s. Despite women’s contribution to the War of Independence, their participation was hardly recognized or accepted by some militants. Following independence, some advances in women’s rights (such as the right to work and education) were made, but women were still poorly represented in the newly independent state. The Family Code was one major step back in women’s rights. After the new constitution in 1989 granted people the right to form associations, more women participated in the political arena and resisted the religious fundamentalists. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Decker, Jeffrey Louis. ‘Terrorism (Un) Veiled: Frantz Fanon and the Women of Algiers’. Cultural Critique, no. 17 (1990): 177.

This paper aims to theorize the politics of femininity in relation to the anticolonial struggles of Algerian women. Two accounts of the veiled Algerian women, namely the victim of Muslim orthodoxy in the western discourse and the revolutionary agent of decolonization, were articulated. Through the unpacking of Fanon’s essay “Algeria Unveiled”, Jeffrey argued that Algerian women acted their political agency through the manipulation of the veil and the deployment of the violent “technique of terrorism”. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


ElTayeb, Salah ElDin ElZein. ‘The ‘Ulama and Islamic Renaissance in Algeria’. American Journal of Islam and Society 6, no. 2 (1 December 1989): 257–88.

This paper aimed to answer how the liberation of Algeria was facilitated by the Algerian religious renaissance led by the Algerian “Ulama”. It traced back to the origins of the Islamic renaissance in Algeria. The practice of Salafiyah, instead of the Sufi sects, was promoted, which is important for the independence movement, as the Sufi religious leaders were in support of French colonial rule. The reform in religious, social and cultural aspects of Algeria prepared the Algerian masses morally and psychologically for independence from France. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Fanon, Frantz . ‘Algeria Unveiled’. Decolonization, 24 February 2004, 60–73.

This article is one of the most classic analyses of the politicization of the veil in Algeria between the colonizers and the nationalists. The colonial power saw the Algerian women behind the veil as “the frontier of colonialism” and attempted to dominate the veil. However, such action gave the veil a special meaning to the nationalists. Algerian women used the veil as “a technique of camouflage” and terrorized the colonizer. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Kimble, Sara L. ‘Emancipation through Secularization: French Feminist Views of Muslim Women’s Condition in Interwar Algeria’. French Colonial History 7, no. 1 (2006): 109–28.

This article studied the view of interwar French feminists on the condition of Muslim women in Algeria. Their understanding is largely impacted by the perception of Muslim women as victims of the patriarchal order rooted in the Islamic religion. An imperial approach to modernize Algeria through secularization was supported by the feminists. While the 1804 Civil Code was criticized by feminists in France for bringing inequality between French men and women, they advocated its imposition in Algeria to supplant Islamic law. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Lazreg, Marnia. ‘Gender and Politics in Algeria: Unraveling the Religious Paradigm’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 15, no. 4 (July 1990): 755–80.

Lazreg reviewed gender, religion and politics in Algeria from the French colonial period until the end of the 1980s. Women’s issues were used by the French rulers and the nationalists for their own interests. After independence, women’s rights became less useful for the new objective of development and industrialization, thus the political leaders had an attitude shift toward women. The 1984 Family Code was a major backlash against women’s status. However, since 1989 organizations for women’s rights have been recognized by the law. Women’s reentry into the public space might start a new era for gender relations in Algeria. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Leonhardt, Adrienne. ‘Between Two Jailers: Women’s Experience During Colonialism, War, and Independence in Algeria’. Anthos 5, no. 1 (2013): 43–54.

Through a chronological historical analysis of the role of women in the Algerian war, this paper shows that despite women’s brave actions and sacrifices during the revolution, their contribution to the liberation struggle was largely seen as symbolic. Women’s identity was appropriated for ideological purposes by both Algerian and French forces, while on the other hand women’s voices were kept out of the mainstream discourse and few tangible benefits were brought for women. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Perego, Elizabeth. ‘The Veil or a Brother’s Life: French Manipulations of Muslim Women’s Images during the Algerian War, 1954–62’. The Journal of North African Studies 20, no. 3 (27 May 2015): 349–73.

This paper examined the motivation behind the French ruler’s emancipation campaign for Algerian women in an international historical context. By doing so, the author argues that the emancipation campaign was not purely to assist Algerian women, but to posit France as the “modernising saviours” and thus legitimize their colonial rule. Additionally, the paper also investigated how the French fabricated their ideal images of Algerian women and how the French army exploited Muslim women and their bodies during the same period of the campaign. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Sereni, Jean-Pierre. ‘Algérie : l’islam sous administration coloniale’. Orient XXI, 27 November 2013.,0432.

This blog post gave a nice introduction to France’s management of Islam in Algeria during the colonial period. The colonial administration sought to reduce the place of Islam in Algeria through policies and laws to separate church and state, controlling Islam religious property and personnel, and establishing agencies for Islam management. The French model also influenced the newly independent Algerian government, but their attempt to control religious affairs was not so successful. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Sereni, Jean-Pierre. ‘Le dévoilement des femmes musulmanes en Algérie - Un fantasme colonial’. Orient XXI, 13 September 2016.,1466.

This blog analysed the impact of the French emancipation campaign for Muslim women in Algeria. Before the War of Independence, the communist, nationalist and the Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA) in Algeria each had their own distinct position on the question of women, but the war put an end to the ideological divergence. In the hope of winning the support of Algerian women, the French launched the unveiling campaign, but it didn’t go in the direction they wished: women started to fight for their own rights and the FLN utilized local people’s protective attitude towards Algerian identity. The latter also influenced Algeria’s conservative policies in the domain of family life after independence. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Thoral, Marie-Cecile. ‘Sartorial Orientalism: Cross-Cultural Dressing in Colonial Algeria and Metropolitan France in the Nineteenth Century’. European History Quarterly 45, no. 1 (January 2015): 57–82.

This article discussed the role of dress in cross-cultural encounters in a colonial context. The author assessed the association between imperial power relations and cross-cultural dressing by comparing sartorial orientalism in France and Algeria. The attitude and policies related to Western and Algerian clothing among French settlers, Algerian Muslims and Algerian Jews within Algeria are also discussed to show the dynamics of (counter)assimilation, control and resistance between the colonizer and the colonized. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Turshen, Meredeth. ‘Algerian Women in the Liberation Struggle and the Civil War: From Active Participants to Passive Victims?’ Social Research 69, no. 3 (2002): 889–911.

The author tried to find out why once as fighters during the independent war, Algerian women became targets in the civil war and how Algerian women thought of their situations after independence. To answer the questions, the author reviewed Algerian women’s participation in the War of Independence, their rights and participation in public life after independence, how the Islamists and the government targeted women during civil war to gain control over the population, and Algerian women’s response to the violence and injustice against them. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.


Vince, Natalya. ‘Transgressing Boundaries: Gender, Race, Religion, and “Françaises Musulmanes” during the Algerian War of Independence’. French Historical Studies 33, no. 3 (1 August 2010): 445–74.

Drawing on original research in Algeria, interviews with female combatants, and French military and FLN internal documents, this article focused on the construction of “French Muslim women” by the colonial power, FLN and Algerian women themselves. The author also explored the interplay of gender, race and religion in this process, which has a lasting impact on France and Algeria today. Annotated by Wenqin Zhang.



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East Africa


Anderson, David M. “Guilty Secrets: Deceit, Denial, and the Discovery of Kenya’s ‘Migrated Archive.’” History Workshop Journal 80, no. 1 (October 2015): 142–60.

This article describes how the British empire established, migrated, and destructed secret archives on its colonial history in Kenya based on its interest. The author, as the Expertise Witness of the High Court case, examined thousands of documents that were secretly retained by the British since 1963. Although the readers cannot know what was finally destroyed, the revealed context in these documents shows the efforts of the British empire to refuse and delete the deeply contested history, especially during the Mau Mau rebellion. This article provides background knowledge of the primary sources of the Mau Mau rebellion. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Anderson, David M., and Julianne Weis. “The Prosecution of Rape in Wartime: Evidence from the Mau Mau Rebellion, Kenya 1952–60.” Law and History Review 36, no. 2 (May 2018): 267–94.

This article focuses on how rape was used as a systematic political weapon on women, mainly Kikuyu women, under the State of Emergency in the 1950s. It refers to the archival materials of the Hanslope Disclosure. It is based on the personal experience of Jane Mara, a female Mau Mau supporter. It scrutinizes the action of military and violence in detention camps. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Bell, Erin. “‘A Most Horrifying Maturity in Crime’: Age, Gender and Juvenile Delinquency in Colonial Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising.” Atlantic Studies 11, no. 4 (October 2, 2014): 473–90.

This article analyses the difficulty for the British colonizers to impose metropolitan legal discourses on young boys and girls in colonial settings, here in Kenya in the 1950s. It provides background knowledge of the Mau Mau rebellion: how unsuitable colonial policies were implemented, and resentment rose and became the large-scale rebellion. It refers to secondary journal articles and governmental reports. This article offers supplementary information to this blog on long-existing 'failed' colonial policies and relevant resistance in Kenya. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Bruce-Lockhart, Katherine. “‘Unsound’ Minds and Broken Bodies: The Detention of ‘Hardcore’ Mau Mau Women at Kamiti and Gitamayu Detention Camps in Kenya, 1954–1960.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, no. 4 (October 2, 2014): 590–608.

This article examined how the British used systematic violence against women in Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya and how their voices were largely not heard. It focused on how the British constructed the narratives that connected gender, deviancy, and mental health, which influenced the general image of Kenyan women. The research uses evidence newly released from the Hanslope Park Archive to show the violent treatment of women particularly in detention camps. This blog refers to it to demonstrate that the British colonizers acknowledged women's resistance in the Mau Mau Rebellion. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


“Female Genital Mutilation.” Accessed December 7, 2022.….

This is the official website of the World Health Organization. This blog uses the definition and description of female genital mutilation from it since it is considered the most authoritative and widely accepted. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


“Feminism in the Mau Mau Resurgence.” Accessed December 6, 2022.

This article investigated the causes of the Mau Mau rebellion from a feminist perspective. It addresses the voice of landless women, connecting resistance to the land economy and gender study. It uses gendered class analysis to examine resistance to enclosure in Africa. It helps this blog in the information on the participants and the roles that females played in the Mau Mau rebellion. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Hughes, Lotte. “Alternative Rites of Passage: Faith, Rights, and Performance in FGM/C Abandonment Campaigns in Kenya.” African Studies 77, no. 2 (April 3, 2018): 274–92.

This article analyses and evaluates a new way to reduce female genital mutilation: alternative rites of passage. It introduces its ways of conducting potential variations, and ethical debates related. It is based on fieldwork in Maasai and Pokot communities in Narok, Kajiado Central, and West Pokot counties in 2014 and 2016. It uses structured and semi-structured interviews, informal conversations, focuses group discussions, and participant observation of events. This blog refers to this paper to look for new potential ways to eliminate female circumcision with less cultural harm. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Leye, Els, Nina Van Eekert, Simukai Shamu, Tammary Esho, Hazel Barrett, and ANSER. “Debating Medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Learning from (Policy) Experiences across Countries.” Reproductive Health 16, no. 1 (November 1, 2019): 158. Annotated by Youqing Lin.

This article discusses four ethical debates about the medicalization of female genital mutilation. It shows the status quo of female circumcision by addressing four case studies in Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and the UK. It adds knowledge about what changes can be done to reduce female circumcision and potential obstacles. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Mwangi, Evan. “The Incomplete Rebellion: Mau Mau Movement in Twenty-First-Century Kenyan Popular Culture.” Africa today 57, no. 2 (2010): 86–113.

This article analyses the trauma of the Mau Mau rebellion and colonial history in Kenya, and how people memorize the past. It uses photos, local songs, and literature to illustrate the collective memory of the Kikuyu people. This blog examines the primary sources, majorly the songs, to see whether there is recognition of women's resistance in the Mau Mau rebellion. The sources show that the historical records were trapped in a narrow patriarchal mindset without fully presenting the roles of females at that time. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Oloo, Habil, Monica Wanjiru, and Katy Newell-Jones. “Female Genital Mutilation Practices in Kenya: The Role of Alternative Rites of Passage. A Case Study of Kisii and Kuria Districts.” Population Council, 2011.

This report demonstrates the current situation of female genital mutilation practices in Kenya and the progress in promoting alternative rites of passage. It was carried out by Population Council in Kenya in partnership with Feed the Minds in the UK, the Education Centre for the Advancement of Women, Kenya and Reach Women and Youths Development Organization. It conducted two case studies in Kuria and Kissi in Kenya to investigate how the alternative rites of passage could be facilitated in regions with different societal contexts. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Presley, Cora Ann. “The Mau Mau Rebellion, Kikuyu Women, and Social Change.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines 22, no. 3 (1988): 502–27.

This article provides an important analysis of the development of nationalist sentiment and activity among women since the 1920s in Kenya. It uses interviews with former women nationalists in Kenya in 1978 and presents the major women's network: Wambui Wagarama, Nduta wa Kore, Phillis Wanjiko wa Mimi, Priscilla Wambaki, and Mary Wanjiko. The blog refers to this paper in terms of colonial unfair policies on women and their reactions. The series of the event shows that the defiance of the ban on circumcision was not a sole event. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Santoru, Marina E. “The Colonial Idea of Women and Direct Intervention: The Mau Mau Case.” African Affairs 95, no. 379 (1996): 253–67.

This article examines how colonialism transformed the role of women in Kenya, from traditional unpolitical figures to increasing participation in politics. It points out that day-to-day colonial administrative practices had long accumulated Kenyan women's resistance. It relies on primary sources, such as memorandums and governmental monthly reports from the 1950s from Kenyan National Archives. It provides information on a series of colonial policies and women's resistance other than the defiance of the ban on circumcision. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Shell-Duncan, Bettina. “The Medicalization of Female ‘Circumcision’: Harm Reduction or Promotion of a Dangerous Practice?” Social Science & Medicine 52, no. 7 (April 1, 2001): 1013–28.

This article examines the debate on whether the medicalization of female circumcision is still a violation of women's basic right to health. It proposes the dilemma between protecting women's health at the expense of legitimating a destructive practice. It takes the angle of medicine and science to investigate female circumcision and potential ways to reduce its harm to women's bodies. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Shell-Duncan, Bettina, and Ylva Hernlund. Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000.

The book investigates female circumcision as a cultural pattern by showing its significance across regions and forces for continuing it and obstacles to the changes. it raises the question of whether female circumcision is a maladaptive cultural pattern. It examines case studies in Sudan (female circumcision and demography), Nigeria (among the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria and medicalization debate in Nigeria), Kenya (Ngaitana), Southern Chad, and Mali (Numu women and their campaign against excision). The book contributes to understandings of the cultural significance of female circumcision. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


sitecontrol. “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern.” UNICEF DATA, February 3, 2016.….

This is the data website of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. It provides a brochure with data on practicing female genital mutilation around the world: its total number, distribution, and changes. The data is based on more than 90 nationally representative surveys. It offers basic information on female circumcision in the contemporary world and the significance for us to discuss it and keep making efforts to reduce it. Annotated by Youqing Lin.


Thomas, Lynn M. “‘ Ngaitana (I Will Circumcise Myself)’: The Gender and Generational Politics of the 1956 Ban on Clitoridectomy in Meru, Kenya.” Gender & History 8, no. 3 (November 1996): 338–63.

This paper investigates the history of how Kenyan girls, mostly Kikuyu, reacted to the ban on female circumcision in the Meru region by the British: they circumcise themselves. The unexpected self-harm of girls reflects firstly the fact that female circumcision has been deeply connected with cultural continuity and ethnical identity. And how this connection could be more complicated when nationalism is involved. The research uses interviews, letters, government reports, meeting records, and notes. This paper provides insights on how the patriarchy system is embedded in women's resistance and the significance of political and patriarchal power to shape women's/people's behaviors (by doing something harmful to themselves). Annotated by Youqing Lin.



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West Africa


Themes: Women in politics



Albert, I. O. (2005). Explaining ‘godfatherism' in Nigerian politics. African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine de Sociologie, 9(2), 79-105.

This article explores the role that the practice of Godfatherism plays in Nigerian politics through an analytical lens. Godfathers are prominent members of society that influence politics and they assist political candidates in securing political positions. In essence, it is a practice that men often benefit from. This practice threatens the opportunities for women to take their place in Nigerian politics. The article warns that as long as godfathers are allowed to operate in the political spaces, they will manipulate who gets to participate in politics (often men) and electoral outcomes. The elitist nature of the practice reveals the impunity that is allowed in Nigerian politics and decisions made without the consideration of the public and/or the voices of women. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


George, Tayo O., Christiana Adetunde, Oluwakemi Ijagbemi, and Mercy Udume. "Overcoming the Challenges of Women in Politics: Lesson for and from Nigeria." The Nigerian Journal of  Sociology and Anthropology Vol 14, no. 1 (2016): 146.

This article evaluates the historical presence of women in Nigerian politics. It discusses structural barriers such as limited access to education, the lack of sufficient financial resources, institutional barriers such as male-centric political parties, and cultural barriers limiting women to motherhood. All of these create challenges for women in their abilities to appear in political spaces. Nigerian women are confronted with barriers that this article states need to be addressed urgently as the governance of Nigeria relies on them. The authors established at the end that women’s rights are human rights and Nigerian women’s participation should be treated as such. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Hussain, T. Uddin E. (2020). “Women of the #EndSARS Protests: History Will Remember Them.”  We Are Restless. Retrieved from…

This was an article written during the height of the #EndSARS protests. It discusses the atmosphere of the protest as armed forces retaliated with violence and peaceful protests that ended in a bloodbath. Women were at the forefront of this event and the authors made a point to state that because Nigerian women are often erased from political and social participation. It discusses the different roles that women played during the protest, especially that of the Feminist Coalition organization. The mobilization of women from their homes, online, and to the streets is something that history should remember as the ongoing fight to end police and governmental brutality continues. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Jaiyeola, Emmanuel Olorunfemi. "Patriarchy and colonization: The" brooder house" for  gender inequality in Nigeria." (2020).

This article examines the historical perspective of the political climate in Nigeria utilizing a hegemonic and Nigerian masculinity theoretical framework. Gender equality in Nigeria has been a battle for decades if not centuries, and this paper aimed to understand how the colonial legacies and patriarchal structures influenced the gender inequality that is present in Nigeria. Jaiyeola explains that there is an imbalance, reinforced by hegemonic masculinity, in the social structure in Nigeria that is hindering the national development of the country. Undoing such construction requires policies that remove barriers such as traditional gender roles from limiting the social, economic, and political choices and opportunities for women. The marginalization of women not only negatively impacts women’s agency but affects the nationalist climate of the country. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Luka, R. C. (2011). Women and political participation in Nigeria: The imperatives of empowerment. Journal of social sciences and public policy, 3, 24-37.

This article aimed to examine the factors that played roles in the low level of political participation of Nigerian women. It provides a history of women participating in Nigerian politics, and the relationship between social, economic, and political empowerment. The barriers working against women’s active participation, according to the article, were religion, cultural practices, violence and threats, women's perception of politics, the funding for participation, poverty, networking and mobilization, and many more. To combat such issues, the author proposes the need for awareness in civil society that can take the forms of workshops, funding for women's and girls' education, and providing equal opportunities for both genders. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Oloyede, Oluyemi. (2015) "Monitoring participation of women in politics in Nigeria." National  Bureau of  Statistics, NBS, Abuja, Nigeria, pdf.

This was a report by Oluyemi Oloyde, who is the head of Gender Statistics. This report discusses Nigerian women from the pre-colonial era to the challenges faced by Nigerian women in participating in politics and providing statistical figures of the percentage of women participation. The low participation rate of Nigerian women is due to a range of things such as patriarchy, stigmatization, financing, political violence, religious and cultural barriers, and the lack of support and intimidation from men. The report made recommendations for mass solidarity and the coalition of women's support and advocacy groups, creating environments free of violence and discrimination, and the creation of legal funds to assist women politicians and candidates. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Okunola, A. (2021). She Stood Up for #EndSARS. What Will Nigeria’s Odunayo Eweniyi  Do Next? Global Citizen.

This article provides insight into the Feminist Coalition organization in Nigeria, especially in their involvement in the #EndSARS protest in 2020. The founders of the organization, who were interviewed in this article, discussed how the decision to create the organization came from the realization that men held power and were at the top of the food chain and wanted to change the narrative. The women banded together to participate in changing Nigerian society. It was built on three pillars: the representation of women in all parts of political offices, financial equality for women, and women’s rights and safety. Women are at the center of the organization, and the founders are dedicated to visibilizing the personhood of Nigerian women. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Osimen Goddy Uwa, Anegbode E. John, Basil Osayin Daudu, and Oyewole Oyindamola O. “Political Participation and Gender Inequality In Nigerian Fourth Republic”. Global  Journal of Political Science and Administration. Vol.6, No.5, pp.22-38. 2018.

This article examines how male domination in Nigerian politics has rendered the personhood of women invisible. Despite the efforts of organizations advocating for 35% affirmative action for inclusive representation of women in political positions after the fourth world conference on Women in Beijing, Nigerian women are still being marginalized in politics. Nigeria’s continuous failure in women’s political representation is worrisome and this article recommends education and governmental engagement with civil society. This article recognizes that there is a gap between Nigerian male-dominated systems and the lived realities of the general population and discourse has to be had regarding such disconnect for the deconstructing process to begin. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.


Odionye, Ada E. "Education as a Panacea to Women's Active Participation in Nigerian Politics." Journal of Education and Practice 7, no. 30 (2016): 212-217.

This article aimed to investigate the underrepresentation of women in Nigerian politics by analytically tracing the historical trajectory of Nigerian women’s presence in politics. The author situated the issue of underrepresentation within the broader discourse on personhood, justice, and human rights. The abilities of women, as found in this article, are usually undermined and backgrounded. For the perspective towards Nigerian women to change, education is important in cultivating the minds of Nigerian citizens to recognize the importance of women in political administrations. The gender-political inequality in Nigeria has to be perceived as human rights and in doing so creates more awareness to bridge the gap that is evident in the political climate of the country. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.




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Themes: Organization of American States, feminisms in the Americas,


Bracewell, Lorna Norman. ‘Beyond Barnard: Liberalism, Antipornography Feminism, and the Sex Wars’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 42, no. 1 (September 2016): 23–48.

In this essay, Bracewell looks back to the “feminist sex wars” that began at the 1982 “conference The Scholar and the Feminist IX: Towards a Politics of Sexuality, held at Barnard College.” Bracewell challenges the argument that the sex wars were between “ antipornography feminists versus sex-radical feminists,” rather, she explores the contention between “antipornography feminism and liberalism.” Providing critical insights into the concept and history of “carceral feminism,” Bracewell shows that departing from its roots as a critique of liberalism, in the 1980s and 1990s, “anti-pornography feminism” was understood as a principle belief of liberalism. Annotation by Nivedita Joon.


“A brief history of the Inter-American Commission of Women,” Organización De Los Estados Americanos,[EN].pdf.  In this informative piece published by the Organisation of American States website, the authors describe the history of the Inter-American Commission of Women (1923 – 2001) through its various regional conferences and issues on which it fought – from universal suffrage to equitable development of women to the cause of violence against women. Annotation by Nivedita Joon.



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Latin America


Themes: Penal states


Markus-Michael Müller (2012) The rise of the penal state in Latin America, Contemporary Justice Review, 15:1, 57-76, DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2011.590282.

In this essay, drawing from the theoretical and conceptual work of Loïc Wacquant, Michael Muller explores the politics of Latin America’s “penal statecraft.” The author argues that while neoliberalism provides a critical insight into the “criminalisation of urban marginality” and the development of the local prison system, it is important to recognise the salient differences in the Latin American experiment. Muller shows that the prison system in Latin American countries uses more “violent, arbitrary and illegal forms of penalisation” when compared to the “first world nations.” Annotation by Nivedita Joon.



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Themes: LGBTQIA rights, (anti-)carceral feminisms,



Banisalamah, Ahmed. “Colonialism, Sexualities, and Culture: A Transnational Interrogation of Caribbean Subjectivities.” Papers on Language & Literature 56, no. 2 (2020): 167–220.

In this article by Ahmed Banisalamah, the author expands the general conception of equality to study Caribbean issues of sexuality and gender, particularly as homosexuality is often viewed as a “betrayal to the cultural heteronormativity” throughout the region (2020: 23). By examining post-colonial literature to parse out thematic patterns explaining Caribbean people’s wish to depart from “colonial ways of witnessing and living life,” Banisalamah curates a method that is equal parts theory and literary analysis (2020: 32). Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Barnard, Linda. “Five questions with LGBT activist Mariela Castro Espín.” Toronto Star. 2015.

Through this interview with Mariela Castro Espín during her visit to Toronto, Canada, Linda Barnard at the Toronto Star pulls out interesting observations of Ms. Espín’s motivations, core activism focuses, and history. Barnard draws long narrative lines between Ms. Espín’s modern work and her mother’s work all the while connecting them with the work of Raul Castro (Ms. Espín’s father) and his brother, leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Browne, Evie. “Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Cuba: Family, Rights, and Policy.” Gender and Development 26, no. 1 (2018): 71–87.

In this article, Evie Browne argues that despite “strong rhetoric on gender equality and non-discrimination in international fora and in Cuban society,” the rights of queer women, in somewhat of a departure from the typical narrative of women’s rights in Cuba, have been forgotten and lack legislation or protection (2018: 71). Through roughly 17 interviews with bisexual and lesbian women living in Cuba, Browne finds that Cuba fails to protect people outside of the heteronormative way of living that the Cuban Revolution promoted as the ultimate construction of family life. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Hamilton, Carrie. Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

In this book, Carrie Hamilton addresses the relationship between sex, morality, and revolution using Cuba as a case study, exploring the decades since the 1959 revolution to examine how ideas on sexuality have evolved in Cuban society and revolutionary politics. She has two primary arguments: that changes in sexuality post-1959 were less due to policy changes than to wider social, political, and economic transformations, and that variations in sexuality are explicitly tied to social power relations along race, class, and gender lines. To explore these arguments, she primarily utilizes extensive oral history interviews with island-dwelling Cubans collected over many years, combined with comparatives histories of sexuality and gender, queer, and feminist theories. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Hynson, Rachel. “Laboring for the State: Women, Family, and Work in Revolutionary Cuba, 1959-1971.” Cambridge Latin American Studie ; 117. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Through feminist gender analysis, discourse analysis, and the Gramscian concept of hegemony, Rachel Hynson highlights how Cubans responded to ideas imposed during the Revolution by creating alternatives to the state-led narrative. She finds that the state’s progression from a democratic to authoritarian movement and its attempts to control morality display consolidations of power and obscure the grand narrative of the Revolution. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


King, Rosamond S. Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2014.

In her 2014 book, Rosamond King argues that analyzing sexuality in societies such as the Caribbean requires “recognizing that these subjects’ sexual behaviors have been derogated, exaggerated, and exoticized by imperial and colonial powers and then held up by those same powers as examples of Caribbean people’s inferiority” and as a pseudo-justification for their treatment (2014: 1). She finds that both due to and in spite of this legacy, sexuality and sex itself appear in the imagination as tools of politics and pleasure, of liberation and oppression, interacting directly with legacies of slavery, colonization, and economies often reliant on debt and tourism (2014: 2). Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Medina, Eduardo. The New York Times. “Cuba Approves Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Vote,” 2022.

This article published on 26 September 2022 in the New York Times was the original article that made me interested in the topic of same-sex marriage in Cuba. It announces that the referendum on same-sex marriage and adoption, amongst other occurrences like supporting surrogate pregnancies, measures against gender violence, encouragement for equal distribution of domestic labor, etc, had passed and that 67% of Cuban voters had supported it. The article details the economic, political, and social situation of Cuba and how the passage of this referendum comes at a time of intense pressure on the government to deliver, as well as mentioning some critiques by LGBTQ activists on the sincerity of the content and methods of the referendum. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Nixon, Angelique. Resisting Paradise: Tourism, Diaspora, and Sexuality in Caribbean Culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. 2015.

In her book published in 2015, Angelique Nixon argues that if colonialism and slavery crafted a view of the Caribbean as consumable paradise, then the neocolonial governments (in association with multinational corporations and foreign investment banks) have maintained that image through various methods of tourism and exploitation. Nixon analyses the social and economic processes by which the Caribbean has been constructed as paradise and shows how the international tourist expectations reinforce established patterns of heteronormativity and class privilege while subjecting locals through imperialistic tourist gazes. These methods display how “tourism in its worst form demonstrates the cultural stagnation of decolonization and the continual economic dependency of post-colonial societies on former colonizing societies” (2015, 30). Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


O’Boyle, Brendan. “Why Reinaldo Arenas still matters for Cuba’s LGBT community.” Americas Quarterly. December 7, 2016.

Through historical record and literary analysis, Brendan O’Boyle captures the ideas and spirit of Reinaldo Arenas and shows how this important figure of the Cuban LGBT community continues to impact activists in a multitude of ways. He finds that Arenas personally blamed Fidel Castro for the poverty and displacement that defined much of his life in his suicide note, while also finding that Arenas fought endlessly against the homophobia that became institutionalized in the two decades following the 1959 Revolution. Since Arenas was open at a time that the state was forcefully sending gay men to labor camps, his writing actively went against norms, with his work being banned starting with his second novel. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.


Pappier, Juan, and Cristian González Cabrerz. “Political Rights for Cubans Should Not Start with a Marriage Equality Referendum.” Human Rights Watch. May 15, 2022.

In this article preceding the Cuban referendum on the Family Code (including provisions on same-sex marriage, adoption, etc), Juan Pappier and Crisitan González Cabrerz argue that despite referendums’ important role in democracies helping people exercise their right to vote, basic rights like gender and marriage equality should not hinge on something that amounts to a country-wide popularity vote. The rights of people to love, engage in society, and exist as people should not be dependent on how society generally feels about them – human rights should be respected regardless. Annotation by Peter Wetherbee.



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North America


Themes: Incarceration



Gruber, Aya. The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women’s Liberation in Mass Incarceration, University of California Press, 2020.

In this book, feminist lawyer Aya Gruber looks back to the history of feminist activism in the United States to explore its “punitive impulse” that led to the concept of “carceral feminism.” Using legal historiography of important cases, Gruber shows how the state has failed to protect the female victims of violence through a law and order policy of “mandatory arrests, no-drop prosecutions, forced separation, and incarceration.” Urging feminists to recognise the harm done by the carceral approach to women of colour, Gruber asks feminists to think beyond the criminal justice system and use it as the last resort, instead of the first. Annotation by Nivedita Joon.



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Theoretical Perspectives




Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99.

A central paper to the development of “intersectional feminism,” Crenshaw explores her legal practice serving battered women to demonstrate the limits of single axis identity politics. In the paper, Crenshaw argues how the structures of racism and sexism impacts the lives of Black women in the Unites States and the need to see race and gender as intersecting identities. The author then explores the ways in which “race and gender intersect” with one another to shape the “structural, political and representational aspects of violence against women of color.” Annotation by Nivedita Joon.


Peter Brooks “Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative” Harvard University Press; Third Printing edition, January 1, 1993.

Brooks argues that “modern narrative” aims to “uncover the body” to reveal a truth embodied on the body, and stories are driven by the motivation of understand the body. The author presents that imagination enables us to develop stories about the body through language. Starting from the classics, Rousseau, to contemporary artists and writers to highlight how writers and artists are fascinated by the body, which is a form that cannot be separated from spirit. Brooks illustrates the paths that and the reason why the female body has become the stage where “the aspirations, anxieties, and contradictions of a whole society” are manifested. Annotated by Yiyao Yang.


Bernstein, Elizabeth. ‘Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: The Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Antitrafficking Campaigns’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36, no. 1 (September 2010): 45–71.

In this essay, Bernstein explores the strange marriage of “abolitionist feminists and Christian evangelicals” in the struggle against the “traffic in women.” Based on ethnographic evidence with feminist and evangelical antitrafficking movement leaders, Bernstein shows that the marriage is due to not only common “conservative ideals of sexuality” but an increasingly carceral approach to justice and “militarised humanitarianism.” Bernstein identifies two historical shifts for this change – a move away from “redistributive model of justice” towards “incarceration” and the movement of young evangelicals towards “a globally oriented social justice theology.” Annotation by Nivedita Joon.


Puwar, N. (2004). Space invaders: Race, gender, and bodies out of place.

This book interrogates the relationship between body and space. In modern times, institutions have been on a journey to prove that they are diverse and are dedicated to creating a safe space for their employees. However, the book explains that organizations, institutions, and entities fail at this because ethnic minorities and women are often perceived as space invaders. The ideology is that those groups of people do not belong in those spaces, even if they are historically the natural occupants. Instead, those spaces are occupied by white men. This book illustrates the importance of space as it relates to the body and how it should not be positioned through the white gaze. It interrupts the performative nature of institutional diversity by pointing out the burden that racialized bodies have in their attempts to occupy space. Annotation by Favour Imhomoh.