Loes Oudenhuijsen, Islam, everyday ethics, and its gendered contestations: ‘’wicked’’ women in Senegal from 1950 to the present

Drawing on moral panics about supposedly sexually transgressive women in the history of Senegal, this research seeks to understand how sexual and gender dissidence coalesce in the categorisation of ‘’wicked’’ women. This study will center around ‘’wicked’’ women in Senegal from 1950 to the present, and will explore how women who transgress the gender norm become stigmatized, as well as how these so-called ‘’wicked’’ women subsequently negotiate their stigmatization. Such processes of stigmatization and negotiation reveal tensions between gender norms, social transformations, and women’s agency in relation to these transformations. The aim of this research is to uncover changes in gender norms, to better understand how present-day ideas about gender and its transgressions have come about. By studying how various types of ‘’wicked’’ women – sex workers, unmarried women, and single mothers – dealt with the label ‘wicked’ over the course of the last 70 years, this research will combine historical feminist analysis with more recent debates about sexual and gender diversity to provide a diversified historical narrative of gender and sexuality in Senegal. The research will use a historical-ethnographic approach to explore Senegalese women’s ideas and practices of love and sexuality, starting with late colonialism, through early independence, and up to the current era of globalisation. The geographical focus of this research is urban Senegal, with a particular focus on Dakar and Saint Louis because of their long history with colonialism and globalisation. The study seeks to start to fill the gap in the production of knowledge on gender histories in order to better understand how present-day ideas about gender and its transgressions have come about.

Researcher supervising: 
External supervisors: 
Dr Rachel Spronk, University of Amsterdam
Project status: 
Ongoing
Countries, location: