Digitizing African Gender Histories: Examples from Senegalís Henriette Bathily Womenís Museum

Thursday, January 7, 2016: 3:30 PM
Salon C (Hilton Atlanta)
Hilary Jones, Florida International University
As governments and civil society organizations (both nationally and internationally) grapple with issues of women’s empowerment and gender equality in Africa there is an urgent need for quality information on these issues from African perspectives. Digital collections provide key context concerning the historical roles that women have played in African societies and the ways in which gender has informed the past.  Researchers and journalists as well as local and global publics benefit from access to this information.  Scholars who collaborate with local institutions to develop online oral and archival collections of African gender histories, however, must deal with issues of long-term funding, equal access, and the inclusion of topics such as the role of sexuality and human rights in such collections.  My presentation will address the problem of who speaks for women in the process of digitizing African gender histories, who gains access to these resources and how do we ensure that digitizing meets the primary goals of African women’s organizations.  For instance, Senegal’s Henriette Bathily Women’s Museum maintains that their mission is to ensure that knowledge about the role of women in Senegal is available to continental African youth who are coming of age in the contemporary world that neglects African traditions in favor of globalization.   I draw my examples from my interaction with the Musťe de la Femme Henriette Bathily, a twenty-year old institution that is attempting to reinvent itself for a twenty-first century audience by seeking collaboration with scholars to exhibit its collections and provide access to its archives through digital media.
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