Local Resistances to International Agendas on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 09:00
This panel focus on the articulation of the agendas of human rights related to sexual and reproductive rights in Africa, discussing both the global transnational inception of these agendas and the local contexts of promotion, reception, evaluation or resistance of their implementation programs.
Human rights agendas have become growingly complex since the 1990s, with newer instruments focusing on women, children or youth. Global and local institutions that try to articulate social realities with formal definitions of justice do it through working concepts such as "sexual and reproductive rights". Some of these agendas interrogate established values and social relations in many African contexts, and are often questioned on their supposed "universal" quality. The growing urbanization of the African continent, the communications' improvement, expanding demographic pattern and youth movements enhanced the capacity of expression of local movements and presented new challenges to the citizenship rights agenda. Grassroots movements and local activism that appropriate human rights discourse and operationalize it also contribute to the redefinition of the concept of citizenship.
This panel focus on the articulation of the agendas of sexual and reproductive human rights in both rural and urban settings, global transnational inception and local contexts of promotion, reception, evaluation or resistance. It highlights the tactics for promotion of social and political rights and questions how these articulate (or not) with socio-cultural representations of sexuality, gender or intergenerational relations. The panel aims at discussing local reception of campaigns of sexual and reproductive rights, and understanding how these enroll with local representations and spark resistance or acceptance. We welcome contributions that are critically oriented towards the ambiguity of both the human rights agendas and their local representations, adaptations, resistance or manipulation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Between HIV prevention and LGBT rights? Queer political practices in Accra, Ghana
This paper explores how sexual rights discourses shape the political practices of queer men involved LGBT rights activism in Ghana. Rather than operating deterministically, it finds that the nomenclature of sexual rights has been adopted and redeployed by activists in pragmatic and contextual ways.
This paper draws on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Accra, Ghana to examine the political practices of queer men - sasoi - involved in HIV and LGBT rights activism. Taking as its starting point debates concerning the 'globalisation' of gay rights and identity, the paper explores how sexual rights discourses shape saso political practices in this setting. Here, the paper delimits some of the terms, phrases, and frames of reference used by activists to articulate queer sexuality. This analysis suggests that the nomenclature of sexual rights has not erased or usurped forms of queer knowledge that are culturally located and produced. Rather, it has been integrated into a rich lexicon of queerness that travels between global and local registers, English and Ghanaian languages, and is deployed by activists in pragmatic and contextual ways. Specifically, concepts of LGBT rights are seen as meaningful when tied to claims that resonate with activists, such as the right to access healthcare or the right to be free from physical violence and abuse. They also provide a valuable strategic framework through which to articulate and challenge abuses, assert rights, and claim citizenship. These dynamics trouble the view that the globalisation of gay rights and identity operates deterministically and instead highlights the agency and productive power of saso sexual politics.
The right to defend what is taboo? Associative strategies to defend the rights to abortion and homosexuality in Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal
This paper examines the influence of the international human rights system in the structuring of associations fighting for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy and the defense of homosexuality, using examples from three Francophone African countries, Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal.
With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African countries have at their disposal a "model" for the development of the law of associations, dependent of the defended cause. For political as well as cultural considerations, the system of associations in these countries has only been formally liberalized and remains under strong governmental control.
In this context, the question arises of the possibility for associations to defend causes which remain not only taboo in large sections of society, but which concern acts that are illegal. Thus, abortion and homosexual relations exist in the societies of Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal, but remain largely unacknowledged and even illegal in the three countries studied. Many associations therefore seek to make the general public aware of the problems caused by the repression of abortion and / or gay relations, they carry out campaigns to prompt decision-makers for changes of the laws or their application on these two subjects. Others choose to be less explicit and the game of alliances with international players takes on great importance.
International and national texts show strong ambiguities. Formal guarantees of freedom of association are thus easily circumvented in these countries in order to prohibit the creation and / or functioning of associations whose social purpose does not correspond to socially accepted values. Such limitations therefore force associations to adopt circumvention strategies which will be analyzed and compared in this communication.
Unintended effects of a Ugandan social accountability programme: Tracing change in family planning programmes
We trace instances of change attributed to a family planning programme in two Uganda districts. Analysis reveals standard programme theories of change miss numerous instances of local adaptation and reinvention.
A recent study evaluates a social accountability programme in two Ugandan districts. The programme theory of change follows a standard model for social accountability programmes where the engagement and sensitization of citizens through rights training combined with issue prioritization and action planning and interfacing with duty bearers generates countervailing power and results in improved service delivery for family planning. We trace instances of remedy and redress credited to the programme by retrospectively following cases of actual change and aim to determining the 'active ingredients' which enabled this change to take hold. Through the analysis of documents, in-depth interviews and field notes it is revealed that many instances of change do not cohere with the standard programme theories of change or pre-set outcome measurements. For example, an increase in budget for family planning programmes in one district could be traced to the work of one local man who was personally motivated by principles outside of the rights training provided, held a political role, was well connected, engaged with a number of similar local projects and used advocacy activities not anticipated by the programme. We argue that such instances of local adaptation and reinvention and the inability to contain programme effects necessitates a need for a different engagement with progamme measurement and impact evaluation which recognizes the situated nature of local engagement and the challenge in attributing outcomes or drawing causal links between preset programme activities and effects in the evaluation of social interventions related to sexual and reproductive rights and health.
(In)visible Bodies: The National Campaign to 'Eradicate' Female Genital Cutting in Eritrea
In 2007, the newly independent Eritrean government outlawed FGC. The questions that orient my anthropological research include: how do national actors, from government officials in the metropolis to healthcare workers in rural areas, understand, construct and politicize FGC?
Much research has primarily framed female genital cutting (FGC) as part of a colonial "civilizing mission" that sought to exert control over African women's bodies. My ethnographic research focuses on how Eritrea—recognized as a state by the United Nations in 1993 after a thirty-year war for independence from Ethiopia—operates under the gaze of a rights-preoccupied world that deems it in need of "modernization". Recent anthropological scholarship has critiqued the ways in which contemporary research furthers the colonialist notion that African cultures and human rights are mutually exclusive (Hodžić 2009). They have paid little attention to the multiplicity of voices within countries where FGC is practiced. Building upon Hodžić's work, my project also explores the history of endogenous movements against FGC, and women's rights, in Eritrea. In 2007, the Eritrean government outlawed the practice of female genital 'mutilation'. Since then, the state has sought to 'eradicate' FGC through film screenings, local health workshops, national TV, and other means, and the criminalization of those who support FGC. The questions that orient my research include: how do national actors, from government officials to healthcare workers, construct and politicize female genital 'mutilation'? How do these agendas shape the bodies of Eritrean women, who are often imagined as subjects to be "saved"? In the face of transnational and national projects that claim their bodies as grounds of contestation, how do Eritrean women respond, adopt, and subvert these projects in pursuit of reproductive wellbeing?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.