Women's and Gender Studies 44


 Amherst College
Spring 2000

Amrita Basu
Kristin Bumiller
Margaret Hunt

Amrita Basu
reflects on
Women's Movements and Transnationalism


Syllabus Index


Women are claiming a new voice in civil society by spearheading both egalitarian movements for social change and reactionary movements which would restore them to putatively traditional roles. They are prominent in local level community-based struggles but also in women's movements, perhaps the most international movements in the world today. This course will explore the varied expressions of women's activism at the community, national, and transnational levels. How is it influenced by the intervention of the state and international agencies? How is it affected by globalization? Among the issues and movements which we will address are: struggles to redefine women's rights as human rights, women's activism in right wing movements and religious nationalism, international debates about sexuality and reproduction, campaigns around violence against women at the hands of families and the state, and the impact of the Internet on women's activism. Our understanding of women's activism is informed by a richly comparative perspective and attention to cases from diverse regions of the world.


The following books are available for purchase at the Jeffrey Amherst Bookshop:

Cynthia Cockburn, ed., THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Books are also on reserve. Photocopied materials are available for purchase at the Women's and Gender Studies Department Office in Grosvenor's House.


The course requirements include four writing assignments due Feb. 14, Feb. 28, April 10 and May 6). Participation is also considered in the final evaluation. If you cannot attend a class, please notify Professor Bumiller via e-mail.


January 25 Introduction: Face of Activism

Videos: Excerpts from "Welfare Warriors" and "When Women Unite " (in class)



January 27 Locating Activism

Uma Narayan, Dislocating Cultures, pp. 3-39, 83-117.

February 1 Feminism

Mary Daly, Gynecology, pp. 113-133.
Uma Narayan, Dislocating Cultures, pp. 43-80.

February 3 The Global and the Local

Maria Lugones, "Playfulness, World Traveling and Loving Perceptions" in Feminist Social Thought
Christine Sylvester, "African and Western Feminisms: World Traveling The Tendencies and Possibilities", Signs
Uma Narayan, Dislocating Cultures, "Through the Looking Glass Darkly," pp. 119-158.

February 8 Engaged Scholarship

Anna Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen, pp. 5-37, 51-71, 104-120.
Nancy Shepper Hughes, Death Without Weeping, pp. 1-30, 340-445.

(Class will meet in three sections)

February 10 Activism, Resistance, and Movements

Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, pp. xi-xxiv
James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, pp. 1-16
Jo Freeman, "On the Origins of Social Movements"
Temma Kaplan, "Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona," Signs



February 14

Film: "Poverty Outlaw" at 4:00 and 7:30 in TBA

February 15 Community Activism (Part 1)

Nancy Naples, Community Activism and Feminist Politics, pp. 31-56, 129-150, 213-236, 275-300.

February 17 Community Activism (Part 2)

Nancy Naples, Community Activism and Feminist Politics, (choose chapter not discussed in previous class)

February 21

Film: "When Women Unite," 4:00 and 7:30 p.m. in Merrill 131

February 22 Community Activism (Part 3)

Mary Anne Weaver, "Gandhi's Daughters" The New Yorker
Ilina Sena ed, A Space Within the Struggle, Introduction and essays by Chetna and Gala, Datar, and Omvedt
Ali Mari Tripp, "Deindustrialization and the Growth of Women's Economic Associations, in Swattz Mitter and Sheila Rowbotham, eds., Dignity and Daily Bread
(Class will meet in sections)

February 28

Film: "Triumph of the Will," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Merrill 131



February 29 German Fascism

Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland, pp. 59-90, 177-219, plus pictures.

March 2 The Klan

Kathleen Blee, Women of the Klan, pp. 1-4, 70-98

March 6

Film: "Umm Khulthum: A Voice Like Egypt," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Merrill 131

March 7 Ethnic Nationalisms (Part 1)

Cynthia Cockburn ed., The Space Between Us, pp. 1-98.

March 9 Ethnic Nationalisms (Part 2)

Cynthia Cockburn, ed., The Space Between Us, pp. 99-230

March 20

Film: "The Official Story," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Merrill 131

March 21 Motherist Movements

Malathia de Alwis, "Motherhood as a Space of Protest" in Appropriating Gender
Jennifer Schirmer, "Those Who Die for Life Cannot Be Called Dead" Feminist Review
Amrita Basu, "Hindu Women's Activism and the Questions it Raises" in Appropriating Gender

March 22

Film: "Evita," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Chapin 101

March 23 Motherist Leadership

Evita by Evita, Eva Duarte Peron Tells Her Own Story
Alma Guillermoprieto, "Little Eva," The New Yorker, 1996
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, "Gender, Leadership and Representation" in Real and Imagined Women

March 28
Feminist Movements/Women's Movements (Part 1)

Robin Morgan ed., Sisterhood is Global
Amrita Basu ed. The Challenge of Local Feminism, Intro and essays on China, Nigeria, Namibia Peru, and Eastern Europe.

March 30 Feminist Movements/ Women's Movements (Part 2)

(class will meet in sections)

April 4 Domestic Violence

Celina Romany, "Killing the Angel in the House", in The Public Nature of Private Violence
Kristin Bumiller, "The State as a Bastard Father: The Violence of Welfare Dependency."
Karen Kendrick, "Producing the Battered Woman," in Nancy Naples, Community Activism and Feminist Politics, pp. 151-174.

April 6 Gay Marriage

Stoddard, "Why Gay people Should Seek the Right to Marry," in Cases and Materials on Sexual Orientation and the Law
Ettelbrick, "Since When is Marriage a Path to Liberation?"
Robert H. Knight, "How Domestic Partnership and Gay Marriage Threaten the Family," Insights
Ruthann Robson, "Resisting the Family: Repositioning Lesbians in Legal Theory," Signs
Patterson, "Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children," in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities in Families
Robert H. Knight and Daniel S. Garcia, "Homosexual Adoption: Bad for Children, Bad for Society," Insights



April 11 Transnational Women's Movements

"Bringing Beijing Home: The Platform for Action and You."
Jael Silliman, "Expanding Civil Society, Shrinking Political Spaces: The Case for Women's Non-Governmental Organizations," Social Politics, 1999, pp. 23-53. Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Without Borders, chapter 5, pp. 165-198.

April 12

Film: "Breaking the Silence," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Merrill 131

April 13 Women's Human Rights (Part 1)

Charlotte Bunch, "Transforming Human Rights From a Feminist Perspective," in Women's Rights, Human Rights
Radhika Coomaraswamy, "Reinventing International Law: Women's Rights as Human Rights in the International Community", in Debating Human Rights
Rachel Rosenbloom ed., Unspoken Rules: Sexual Orientation and Women's Human Rights, vii-xxxi

April 17

Film: "Warrior Marks," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Chapin 101

April 18 Women's Human Rights (Part 2)

Susan Okin, "Feminism, Women's Human Rights and Cultural Differences", Hypatia
Inderpal Grewal, "Women's Rights as Human Rights: Feminist Practices, Global Feminism and Human Rights Regimes in Transnationality"
Martha Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice

April 20
Whose Human Rights/International Development

Please take a look at these websites:

Oxfam America--Policy Papers
"Women and the Transformation of the Twenty-first Century": a speech by the head of the World Bank
Structural Adjustment and the Poor: The World Bank Speaks
IDA 12: A Chance to Deliver on World Bank Promises
50 Years is Enough! Bailouts for Bankers, Burdens for Women
Women's Eyes on the (World) Bank
WEDO economics

April 25 Transnational Religious Movements (Part 1)

Video made by The Feminist Majority (in class)
Farida Shaheed, "Controlled or Autonomous Identity and the Experience of Networks: Women Living Under Muslim Law" in Signs
Moghadam, Revolution, Religion and Gender Politics: Afghanistan and Iran Compared", in Journal of Women's History
And please look at the
Feminist Majority web-site on the Taliban

April 27 Transnational Religious Movements (Part 2)

Jean Franco, "Defrocking the Vatican" in Cultures of Politics
Bendroth, "Fundamentalism and the Family: Gender, Culture and the American Pro- Family Movement," Journal of Women's History
and look at this article:
Case Study of an American Fundamentalist Family by Margaret Talbot (New York Times)

May 1

Film: "The Global Assembly Line," at 4:00 and 7:30 in Merrill 131

May 2 Globalization

Video made by ILGWU, "Stop Sweatshops" (in class)
Kumudhini Rosa, "The Conditions and Organizational Activities of Women in Free Trade Zones, " in Dignity and Daily Bread
Ann Eyerman. "Serving Up Service: Fast Food and Office Workers Doing It With a Smile," Women Working the NAFTA Food Chain,"
Grace Chang, "The Global Trade in Filipina Workers," Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists

May 4

Sonia Alvarez, ""Latin American Feminists Go Global" in Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures, pp 293-324.