Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4pm (UK)
Naomi Richman and Xia’nan Jin
Register for your place on the Zoom webinar: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_F2Ld0QrWSmCm6MwyLs68aw
Join us for these two fascinating papers in this double bill seminar that features as part of out Black History Month duet.
‘The Evolution of the Witch: Changing Perceptions of female power and sexuality in Postcolonial Nigeria’
Dr Naomi Richman (Cambridge)
The figure of the witch has a long and established history amongst the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria. Whereas prior to colonialism, witches tended to be understood to be elderly, envious women, a series of socio-economic and religious transformations have produced changes in the perceptions of witches – to young, attractive and upwardly mobile women. This paper examines shifting representations of witches since the 1950s in Christian popular literature and investigates the factors behind these shifts, to reveal a story of volatile power dynamics and heightening sexual moralism in modern Yoruba society.
Dr Naomi Richman is a Research Fellow in Anthropology at Trinity College, Cambridge. Her research investigates themes of sexuality, embodiment and selfhood in religious contexts, in particular within Nigeria’s Pentecostal Christian movement. Before Cambridge, Naomi was a Postdoctoral researcher on the Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Hidden Persuaders’, based in the department of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, which tracked the history of cultural debates about ‘brainwashing’ and mind control.
‘Becoming Postcolonial: A Reflection on ‘Chinese’ Positionality in African Gender Studies’
Xia’nan Jin (SOAS)
Following this feminist politics of epistemology, this paper reflects on my experiences in building inclusive knowledge production during my fieldwork in Rwanda. My PhD project looks at women’s (dis)engagement with politics in post-genocide Rwanda. In this paper, I first explain the absence of postcolonialist methodology in my master thesis in Beijing due to an immediate absence of whiteness in China. Then, when I moved to London and started my study at SOAS, I was infiltrated with postcolonial feminist thoughts because of the violent colonial history here and the white supremacist racial hierarchy still present today. Beyond academically, I myself also became racialised as a Chinese woman in the wider British society. With this awareness of postcoloniality both academically and personally, I went to Kigali Rwanda for my fieldwork where I was identified as a muzungu, someone like a white person. However, I felt an immediate discomfort with this muzungu identity and all the privileges assumed with whiteness. Based on my reflection of my positionality in the three transnational locations, I then explain the politics of feminist ethnography and my thinking of building a feminist research paradigm beyond borders.
Xianan Jin is a feminist political scientist currently pursuing her PhD at the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London. Since her performance in Richard III by Shakespeare in Wuhan, Xianan has studied politics and practised feminism in Beijing, Taipei, Rome and London. She is interested in the representation of women in global politics with a class perspective. For her PhD project, she did her fieldwork in Rwanda for a year to investigate women’s engagement with politics after the genocide in 1994. She is also a member of VaChina, a Chinese feminist group in the UK. Since the outbreak of covid-19, she has been leading some anti-racism advocacy and community building work. Coming from a working-class family background, Xianan is dedicated to the politics of knowledge production and education for the marginalised groups of people.
We do have a limit of 100 attendees, but you can also view the livestream of the seminar on the Women’s History Network Facebook page (available for 24 hours).