chapter  3
20 Pages

Africana Gender Studies: Toward Theorizing Gender without Feminism

WithValethia A. Watkins

Within the discipline of Africana Studies, an initiative is underway to systematically develop and infuse more concepts and information related to %ODFNZRPHQ¶VVWXGLHVDQGJHQGHUFRQWHQWLQWRWKH¿HOG7KHHPHUJHQFH RI%ODFNZRPHQ¶VVWXGLHVDVDQDUHDRIVSHFLDOL]DWLRQRUD¿HOGRIVWXG\ ZLWKLQ$IULFDQD6WXGLHVLVRQHRIWKHPRUHVLJQL¿FDQWRXWFRPHVRIWKLV infusion initiative. Understanding the intersection between the concepts of gender, (Black) women’s studies, and feminism is imperative, if Africana gender studies is to avoid being reduced to functioning as a mere DFDGHPLFFORQHRIDQGLQGLVWLQJXLVKDEOHDFDGHPLF¿HOGIURPWUDGLWLRQDO women’s studies, which is feminism dominated. ,Q VLJQL¿FDQWZD\V IHPLQLVP LV D KHJHPRQLF GLVFRXUVH)HPLQLVW

derived concepts and assumptions have colonized discourses evoking the concept of gender as a category of analysis. The agenda of mainstreaming IHPLQLVPDVDFRQFHSWXDOSDUDGLJPEH\RQGWKH¿HOGRIWUDGLWLRQDOZRPen’s studies is motivated and informed not just by the intent of perpetuating the privileged status of feminism as an explanatory model, but by the DQLPDWLQJLGHDRIUHQGHULQJIHPLQLVPDVDFRPSXOVRU\¿OWHULHXQLYHUsal interpretative lens) in all gender analyses and historical examinations of women, regardless of the academic discipline. This initiative poses a fundamental intellectual challenge for Africana Studies. I have used the WHUP³FRPSXOVRU\IHPLQLVP´WRLGHQWLI\DW\SHRIIHPLQLVPWKDWVHHNVWR

privilege itself as the default and requisite normative lens and conceptual framework for guiding, framing, and determining how research is done on gender or in its use as an analytic category (Watkins 2006, 2010a, 2010b, 2011). The compulsory dynamic is primarily accomplished by constructing gender and feminism as indivisible.