Gender Politics in Comparative Perspective

Discipline: Comparative Politics
Instructor: Walsh
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 0920
End: 1035
Field Work: Day 4 - Casablanca - Wednesday, 26 June | Morocco
Prerequisites: At least one course in comparative politics or women’s studies. Download Syllabus

This course investigates the role of the state in constructing gender, how power is gendered, and the resulting inequalities in the Mediterranean basin. Topics of study include past, present, and future prospects for women’s rights in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt; nationalism, Islam, and gender politics in Turkey; the global economic crises in Greece, sex trafficking in Italy, and migrant women’s rights in France and Spain. Readings from political science are complemented by selections from history, political economy, and women’s studies.

Field Work

Country: Morocco
Day: 4 - Casablanca - Wednesday, 26 June

Over the past several decades women’s organizations in Morocco have been hard at work advancing women’s rights in the country. How and why have they succeeded? What is their future now that an Islamist political party is in power for the first time in the country’s history? This field lab seeks to answer these questions by meeting with the organizations tasked with this future. At the beginning of the course, students will be assigned to work in groups to predict the future of women’s rights in Morocco. Each group member will focus on a specific topic drawn from the core themes of the course: women’s movements and organizations, women’s participation in politics, the role of religion and kinship groups in the state, and the impact of the Arab Spring on women’s rights. The day of the field lab students will travel to Rabat, Morocco’s capital to visit two women’s organizations, and as time allows, the Royal Palace and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V. The morning of the field lab we will meet briefly on the ship as a group before disembarking. We will then take a bus to Rabat. Students will visit the Women’s Action Union (UAF) in the morning and the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) in the afternoon. The former organization has a proud history advocating for Moroccan women’s rights; the latter has been instrumental in the country’s most recent reforms. Students will tour each organization’s offices, meet with board members, and have a question and answer session. Students also will obtain contact information for future exchanges via email. As time allows, students also will tour the Mausoleum of Mohammad V, which conveys the supreme power of Morocco’s kings and includes the remains of the late King Hassan II (1961-1999), father of the current king. Hassan’s legacy includes a host of human rights abuses that prompted the creation of an Equity and Reconciliation Commission from 2004-2005. Although King Muhammad VI has been less draconian, even consenting to advances in women’s rights, royal rule persists. We may also view the Royal Palace and government buildings (outside only; no inside visitors permitted), and have lunch near the Andalusian gardens. If time permits, students may take a stroll and tea at a café in the Kasbah des Oudais. Dress and conduct: Casual business dress is required. This means no shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, short skirts, jeans, revealing or tight clothing, sweatpants, or sweatshirts. Plan to wear neat and clean long pants or a skirt/dress below the knee, a top that covers the collarbone or has a collar, and closed shoes or sandals. Bring a camera, notebook for taking notes throughout the lab, and a modest sized bag to retain pamphlets and other materials that you can use for your presentation. A field lab is an extension of class, meaning conduct and classroom rules apply, including use of cell phones, headphones, and other electronics. Active participation during the lab is expected and will be part of student assessment. Only serious student illnesses will be marked as excused. All other student absences will result in a zero for the field lab assignment. Academic Objectives: 1. To learn about the current status and recent advances in women’s rights in Morocco 2. To learn about state feminism and its successes as well as challenges 3. To learn about the varied perspectives toward women’s rights in Morocco 4. To gain a deeper understanding of the work that women’s advocacy organizations do and have done in Morocco, the obstacles that they face, and how they have overcome those obstacles