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CULT Speaker Series - Tobe Levin van Gleichen, April 29, 2019

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Negotiating the Diaspora: African Immigrant Women's Memoirs Dialogue with Human Rights

Achieving equality in marriage and maternity, as well as freedom from systematic, customary or ritual abuses, that is, achieving women’s human rights, is the unfinished agenda in Igbo Dympna Ugwu-Oju’s memoir What Will My Mother Say? A Tribal African Girl Comes of Age in America (1994); in Khady’s Blood Stains. A Child of Africa Reclaims Her Human Rights (2005), and in Lawrelynd Bowin’s Swimming in a Red Sea (2018). Although Ugwu-Ojo is a Catholic Igbo raised in Nigeria; Khady a Muslim Fulani raised in Senegal, and Lawrelynd, a Catholic Peul from Guinea (Conakry), they confront various gendered expectations in their multiple migrations that ultimately mute difference in favour of a shared female experience.

 

This talk will share the stories of human rights denied in these three books whose authors collectively experienced forced, child marriage; serial pregnancy; denial of or punishment for using contraceptives; domestic violence; economic

dependency; polygamy; and tutelage by men not as loving and wise as themselves. But these women also prevail, not only because they penned their books but because within their pages, they triumph over patriarchy intended to silence them. They have the courage to claim their due.