Rusty Knives and Broken Glass - a postcolonial feminist analysis of Western discursive perceptions on female circumcision in Africa

Hanan Chemlali, Elisabet Kass, Bashir Khalid & Nikolaj Houmann Mortensen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Female circumcision – a practice which has had a century long prevalence in various African contexts – has been subjected to an increasing focus aimed on its abandonment, spanning from individual activism, locally based NGO’s to receiving an International Day of Zero Tolerance sponsored by the United Nations. With a poststructuralist epistemology, and post colonial feminist theoretical framework, which consists of postcolonial, transnational feminist theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty, cultural theorist and sociologist Stuart Hall, postcolonial literary critic Edward Said, postcolonial feminist critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and anthropologist Arturo Escobar we investigate the discursive perceptions from the Western field of development on FC in Africa. In order to do so, this project firstly outlines the historical discourses on African sexuality and Western feminism. This enables an understanding of how the discourse has developed. We conclude that the discursive dichotomy between the civilized West and the African backwardness is maintained in a dominating number of anti-FC campaigns. Nevertheless, through a self-reflexive approach, and acknowledging one’s privileged position and the power relation that is constantly present, there is a possibility of reducing the risk of othering.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato14 jun. 2013
VejledereSigne Arnfred


  • Feminist
  • Female circumcision
  • Human Rights
  • Discourses
  • Postcolonialism
  • The Other