• Msia Clark
  • Department of African Studies, Howard University
  • Abstract Title: Hashtags and Feminism: African Women and Activism in Social Media Spaces

Bio: Msia Clark is an Associate Professor in the Department of African Studies at Howard University. Her work has focused on popular culture, migration, and gender studies. Dr. Clark has written numerous scholarly publications, including three edited manuscripts and over a half dozen articles and book chapters on both popular culture in Africa and on African migrant experiences. Her published books include Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati (2014), Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City & Dusty Foot Philosophers (2018), and Pan African Spaces: Essays on Black Transnationalism (2018). Her more recent articles and book chapters include “The Contemporary African Diaspora”, “The Evolution of a Bicultural Identity, in the Shadows of Nyerere’s Pan Africanism'', and the forthcoming “African Women and Hip-Hop in the Diaspora”. Along with her research interests, Dr. Clark created and teaches the courses “Black Women & Popular Culture '' and” Hip Hop & Social Change in Africa” at Howard University. She (along with her students) produces the Hip-Hop African blog and monthly podcast hosted at hiphopafrican.com. The blog and podcast explore a variety of topics related to hip hop in Africa and includes interviews with artists, activists, and scholars.

Abstract: Several social media campaigns have emerged in the last five years, which have been centered on, begun, and led by African women. This paper looks at how African women activists are using social media to communicate specific narratives of African women. The paper looks at social media campaigns collectively, to examine similar themes, dynamics, and cultural contexts that they share. What trends similarities do we see in the ways African women activists are using social media spaces to communicate feminist critiques of social issues? What do similarities in those critiques tell us about trajectories of African feminist thought? What is the significance of witnessing African women activists in conversation with one another, in real-time? This paper will focus on how African women activists are communicating resistance to patriarchy and violence against women, addressing racism, and are celebrating African women. The movements are also connected to African feminist scholarship, with the scholarship informing the movements and the movements informing the scholarship. Likewise, African feminist scholars are often both academics and activists, while African feminist activists are producing important scholarship that contributes to African feminist thought.

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