Le Ventre de la Femme Sénégalaise: Control and Reclamation of the Senegalese Female Body, From French Colonialism to Modern Healthcare
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Modern Languages and Literatures
In analyzing patriarchal structures and oppression of women, feminist theorists have long argued that society seeks to control women’s bodies and their sexualities. For women of color, this attempted control is intersectional; it overlaps with racial oppression. Accordingly, Patricia Hill Collins argued that Black women in America suffer under a matrix of domination that combines oppression based on gender and race. However, the United States is widely regarded as the most powerful country in the world. How do women in less powerful countries, subject to international intervention and laws, fare under the matrix of domination? I consider this question in the case of Senegal. I argue that women suffer from patriarchal oppression in two prongs: one from within Senegalese society, and one from international forces. Foreign governments, organizations, and media exert influence over the treatment and opportunities of Senegalese women. Using a variety of methods, including interviews, ethnographic observations, qualitative content analysis, and extensive literature review, I trace the roots of this two-pronged oppression from early Senegalese history, through slavery and colonialism, to the present. I find that the matrix of domination exerted by both forces makes female advancement and bodily autonomy even more difficult for Senegalese women, but that they have found novel ways to resist the matrix of oppression. This research offers a new interpretation of Collins’s key theory as applied to non-white women in developing countries.
Roemer, Leah, "Le Ventre de la Femme Sénégalaise: Control and Reclamation of the Senegalese Female Body, From French Colonialism to Modern Healthcare" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1402.
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