African Feminisms

  • Simidele DosekunEmail author
Living reference work entry


What does feminism mean and comprise in Africa? Is there a distinctly African variant, and if yes, what makes it so? These questions have been debated vigorously in the last 40 years by African women scholars who variously seek to defend and advance the broad project of feminism in Africa, if not always by this name. The chapter offers a critical review of the different theories and models of “African feminisms” that have been put forward. While there is a consensus that African feminisms must be attuned and responsive to the conditions of African women’s lives, a central point of contention concerns the nature and status therein of “culture” and “tradition” and what some deem essential and irreducible African difference. The chapter argues against even weakly essentialist theoretical accounts of African feminisms, above all because these presume an authentic African female subject of concern and thus exclude others who do not fit the mold. A view of Africa as the contextual rather than essential ground of African feminisms allows instead for the emergence of a feminist politics for all African women in their immense diversity.


Feminism(s) Feminist theory Essentialism Cultural imperialism Anti-imperialism Politics of authenticity 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media and CommunicationsLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public AdministrationBabcock UniversityIlishan RemoNigeria

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