New Book Gives Voice to Struggles of African Women

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Jennifer Browdy De Hernandez publishes anthology

African Women Writing Resistance: An Anthology of Contemporary Voices, a new book by Jennifer Browdy De Hernandez, faculty in Languages and Literature, was published last August by the University of Wisconsin Press. The book paints a vivid portrait of the lives of African women through a collection of the women’s own stories, interviews, poems, and narratives.

“African literature has been very male dominated,” Browdy de Hernandez, who teaches literature and gender studies, explains. “African women need to have a larger voice in the world. This book is about creating an opportunity for these authors to get their voices out there and to expose them to a wider audience.”

Thirty-six women from thirteen African countries--from well-known authors and activists to an emerging generation of writers--create a powerful picture of what it’s like to be a woman facing and meeting challenges on the African continent.

A new edition of the book released in January by Pambazuka Press will be distributed in Africa, enabling many more African women to read the text. “This book is by and about African women, and now it will be more accessible to them.”

Browdy de Hernandez draws on her teaching to shape her research, and the book was developed out of a course, also titled African Women Writing Resistance. So it’s important to Browdy de Hernandez that the book be used as a resource by other educators. She was thrilled to hear that faculty members at several colleges and universities plan to include the anthology in their syllabi.

Two of the books co-editors, Omotayo Jolaosho ’00 and Pauline Dongala ’04, were students of Browdy de Hernandez.

“Both Pauline and Omotayo were amazing collaborators. They brought both their academic knowledge and their experience as African women to the project, and it was a wonderful experience for me to work with my students,” Browdy de Hernandez says.

Browdy de Hernandez will moderate a panel discussion of the book at March’s International Women’s Day Conference.