Fall 2003, Tuesdays, 5:30-8:00pm
Prof. Sally McWilliams, Montclair State University

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"[A]s feminists we need to attend both to issues within particular nations and to urgent transnational or international issues if we are to achieve greater justice within particular nations, and greater global justice in an increasingly interdependent world."

--Uma Narayan, Dislocating Cultures 39.

Course Overview

The contours, complexities, and contributions of global feminism demand our attention. We will begin our analysis of global feminism by exploring the different geographic, historical, political, economic, and social spaces women inhabit. We will analyze the conditions that promote and inhibit activism around women’s lives taking into account how gender is defined, deployed, and deconstructed. From this space of local praxis we will see how cross-cultural and transnational connections are built. This look at local/global relations will help us understand the shifting connotations for the term "feminism" and what it means to speak about "global feminism." Our work is to examine how local and transnational feminisms that attend to the kalideoscopic range of factors--class, migration, sexual politics, race, religion, geopolitics, to name only a few--comment on, critique, challenge, and in many cases creatively change the day-to-day situations women confront in this era of globalization.


1) interrogate the definition of feminism from various geographic and cultural locales;
2) examine the multiple forms of women’s activism;
3) develop an understanding of the relationship between local and global forms of women’s activism;
4) comprehend the relationship between political and economic structures to women’s lives and their responses to these structures;
5) demonstrate a comprehension of how indigenous women’s activism complicates and extends the concept of “global feminism”; and
6) become self-reflective regarding our own views/relationships to local and global issues affecting women’s lives and the various forms of feminist activism.


1) Dislocating Cultures, Uma Narayan
2) Women's Activism and Globalization, Nancy Naples and Manisha Desai, eds.
3) course packets available from instructor

Course Requirements

This course will be run as a seminar which means that you are obliged to be an active and prepared participant for each class session. Descriptions of the written papers and group projects are provided in separate handouts (and all the course materials are available on our Blackboard webpage).

1) Regular participation in discussions about assigned readings and videos (see reading schedule);
2) three assigned response papers (see reading schedule for due dates);
3) One group presentation (with paper);
4) One short essay on South African feminism;
5) in-class final examination.


Each project group will meet with me during the preparation phase for the presentation. I would also encourage each of you to see me throughout the semester to discuss any issues that you find perplexing (these issues might be related to course content or classroom activities and dynamics).


Participation: 15%
Response papers: 15%
Group presentation/pape: 30%
Short Essay: 20%
Final Exam: 20%

Late Paper Policy

1. Response papers are due on the assigned dates. Any late papers will be dropped one grade point and will be accepted only during the week they are assigned.
2. The short essay and the group presentation paper are due on their assigned dates. Please see me in advance of due dates if you have extraordinary complications in meeting the deadlines.

Paper Format

All writing done outside of class must be typed unless I tell you otherwise. Be sure to keep a copy of all the typed work you give me on the off chance that the original is lost.


Plagiarism is the presentation of other people's work as your own, whether or not the writer has given you permission. It is never acceptable and is cause for failing this course. Bottom line: Always credit your sources--theorists we’ve read; internet sources you’ve consulted; your peers if you use one of their ideas in your writing. If you are feeling pressured about getting the assigned work done, come and see me before you get overwhelmed.