Women in Academia: Amina Mama

Nigerian-British author, feminist, and academic Amina Mama. Post-colonial, militarist, and gender issues have been her main areas of interest. She has forged connections with feminist intellectuals all around the world while residing in Africa, Europe, and North America.

Mama was born on September 19, 1958, into a mixed family in northern Nigeria. Her mother is English and her father is from Nigeria. Mama claims that the diverse nature of her family and upbringing has influenced the way she sees the world.

Mama immigrated to the UK from Nigeria and continued her study there, earning degrees in psychology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1980 and social psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1981. At Birkbeck College, University of London, where her thesis, “Race and Subjectivity: A Study of Black Women,” earned her a PhD in organizational psychology in 1987.

Some of her earlier work compares the circumstances of Nigerian and British women. She relocated to the Netherlands before returning to Nigeria in 2000, only to experience additional instability. She later relocated to South Africa and started working at the traditionally white University of Cape Town (UCT). She helped found the journal Feminist Africa and rose to the position of director of the African Gender Institute (AGI) at UCT. Mama is still the publication’s editor.

Mama chairs the Global Fund for Women’s board of directors and provides advice to a number of other international organizations. She has been on the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development’s board of directors.

Meridians and Signs, two scholarly publications focused on feminism, have Mama on their advisory boards.

In 2012, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Rose Mensah-Kutin, and Mama participated in co-principal investigations over the militarized and post-conflict regions of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria. In these investigations, the women investigated the role of feminist research in activism, policy change, and women’s empowerment.

Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender, and Subjectivity is one of her best-known writings. She works in the film industry as well. She co-produced the film The Witches of Gambaga withYaba Badoe in 2010.

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