Newly compiled research on the way women across the world
perceive feminism is already making its way into women’s
studies classrooms on campus.

The ongoing research was outlined yesterday during a lecture on
the Global Feminisms Project in Lane Hall yesterday.

The project is aimed at comparing feminism in four
countries— China, India, Poland and the U.S., said Abby
Steward, assistant professor of women’s studies and
psychology.

Project members chose nations where individuals are already
running feminism projects. They created international sites where
coordinators collect video interviews of women’s movement
activists and women’s studies.

Steward said that by the end of the project, it is expected that
40 videotapes and their transcripts will be collected and available
to serve as a tool in women’s studies education.

“We have fantasies of putting them on the Internet and
having lots of access (to the tapes) so that people can think of
lots of uses for them,” Steward said.

She added that she thinks the primary use of the videos will be
to serve in teaching women’s studies, noting that some of the
materials collected have already been used in courses at the
University.

Steward said although the United States is providing most of the
funding for the project, directors of the study want it to be a
decentralized effort. It is up to the independent teams in each
country to choose candidates for interviews as well as to decide
how they should be conducted and compiled.

“Decisions are different in every respect. That’s
part of the project, to get different perspectives,” Steward
said.

English Prof. Jennifer Wenzel said the idea of global feminism
differs in other areas of the world, especially Africa and South
Asia.

“There has been a struggle to expand the lens of the
western feminism and point out that feminism is not universal. To
some in the U.S., that’s a new idea,” Wenzel said.

Janet Malley, deputy director of the Institute of Research on
Women and Gender, said the talks showcase the work of faculty and
different institutes, so University students have the opportunity
to talk about what they’re doing and what they want to be
done.

“The talk on The Global Feminisms Project is timely in the
respect that it is an element to the value of women’s studies
at the University. The project has been pretty active this past
year. It’s coordinating activities across several
countries,” Malley said.

The project, initially expected to take place from 2002 to 2005,
is slightly behind schedule.

Project leaders expected to be about two-thirds of the way
through by now, and they are about one-half, said Steward.

Steward and Jaylati Lal, assistant professor of women’s
studies and sociology, presented the lecture as co-directors of the
Global Feminisms Project.

The presentation attracted students on campus with an interest
in women’s studies.

LSA junior Katie Lee said she gained new perspectives on global
feminism.

“I thought it was very interesting. It was on subjects
that you can’t read about in a book,” Lee said.

LSA junior Lynn Hasselbarth said the lecture addressed important
and interesting feminism issues.

“I’m very sensitive of U.S. feminism and how it is
imposed on other countries in (social terms). Generally, I’m
interested in the crossing over of different forms of feminism
between different countries,” Hasselbarth said.

Hasselbarth pointed out that the plural word
“feminisms” in the title is ideal because it signifies
that there are different approaches to feminism and that they vary
world-wide.

Lal said interviews will be conducted on campus sometime this
semester and that students on campus can come to the tapings either
as part of the audience or as questioners.

“There are different things that need to be integrated
into the program. We are looking for ways to integrate
undergraduates into all levels of the project,” said Lal.

More information about the project can be found at
www.umich.edu/~glblfem.

The event was part of a series of Brown Bag talks sponsored by
the Institute of Research on Women and Gender.

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