Feminist Art?

On Tuesday (November 5) Adam, Alex, Kirsten and HiMi will continue the conversation about feminist art.  We will not have the opportunity to watch all of the clips they wanted to share during our 75-minute class, so here they are:

marina: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cCFDSzDnUk

marina and ulay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeF7tOks4s

marina and ulay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-j0Ey2O4HU

ana mendieta (sacrificial chicken): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6mOKIJ17FQ

ana mendieta (blood sign): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QccOqJ2WG8k

Below are some of the questions they formulated to guide our conversation.  Perhaps thinking about them as you watch the videos will help our class discussion on Tuesday:

What makes these artists/their art feminist?

How does the male gaze interact with these pieces?

Discuss the audiences reactions to these performances…

What are your reactions to them?

Why performance art?

Who decides that this is feminist?

Was this art classified as feminist during the time, or have we labelled it that way now?

Foucault Terminology

Archaeology v Genealogy

Archaeologists try to explain what was going on in one selected historical time; they look at objects from a particular time period: the pottery, building materials, books, instruments, and artwork of a particular stratum. Archaeologists try to make sense of how all of those various artifacts fit together. Foucault’s archaeological approach to history is similar. He examined several different things that occurred at the same time. For example, he studied artifacts of eighteenth-century European linguistics, economics, and science. Then he tried to figure out how those artifacts made sense together.  When he conducted archaeological studies, Foucault was particularly interested in knowledge, and he used the term episteme to refer to the knowledge system of a particular time. The episteme is the pattern that can be seen across various disciplines like economics, linguistics, and science. An episteme forms the basis for distinguishing true knowledge from false knowledge:  In sum, archaeology is the study of a cross-section of artifacts in a particular time. It is unlike mainstream history because it analyzes a variety of artifacts in one time period rather than tracing the development of one thing over a period of years.

Although our readings make a sharp distinction between archaeology and genealogy, genealogies are based on archaeologies. While archaeology works to understand how artifacts fit together in a historical moment, genealogy works to figure out what kind of people would fit into that set of artifacts. Foucault’s genealogies are generally based on archaeological-type studies. That is, he examined a cross-section of artifacts (archaeology), and then asked questions like:

  1. What kind of people would live in such a way?
  2. Given those artifacts and epistemes, how did people think of themselves in the world?

There are three major features that distinguish Foucault’s historical work from mainstream approaches to history. First, Foucault’s historical work challenges both continuist and discontinuist historical accounts. Continuous histories emphasize how much things stay the same, and discontinuous histories emphasize how much things change.

In cases when mainstream histories assume continuity, Foucault’s history was likely to emphasize differences, and when mainstream histories assume discontinuity, Foucault’s history was likely to show similarities.  For example, mainstream histories usually portray modernity as a continuation of the Enlightenment. These mainstream histories emphasize the continuous developments in reason, science, and democracy around the world. In his critical spirit, Foucault’s history challenged that continuity. He emphasized how modern institutionalization and industrialization constituted a break from earlier Enlightenment debates between rationalism and empiricism.

Africa Decolonization Timeline

Country  Year


South Africa


Egypt 1922 U.K.
EthiopiaOriginally not colonized but occupied by Italy in 1936 1941 Italy
Libya 1951 U.K.
Sudan 1956 U.K./Egypt
Morocco 1956 France
Tunisia 1956 France
Ghana 1957 U.K.
Guinea 1958 France
Cameroon 1960 France
Senegal 1960 France
Togo 1960 France
Mail 1960 France
Madagascar 1960 France
Congo (Kinshasa( 1960 Belgium
Somalia 1960 Britain
Benin 1960 France
Niger 1960 France
Burkina Faso 1960 France
Cote d’Ivoire 1960 France
Chad 1960 France
Central Africa Republic 1960 France
Congo (Brazzaville) 1960 France
Gabon 1960 France
Nigeria 1960 U.K.
Mauritania 1960 France
Sierra Leon 1961 U.K.
Tanzania 1961 U.K.
Burundi 1962 Belgium
Rwanda 1962 Belgium
Algeria 1962 France
Uganda 1963 U.K.
Kenya 1963 U.K.
Malawi 1964 U.K.
Zambia 1964 U.K.
Gambia 1965 U.K.
Botswana 1966 U.K.
Lesotho 1966 U.K.
Mauritius 1968 U.K.
Swaziland 1968 U.K.
Equatorial Guinea 1968 Spain
Guinea-Bissau 1973 Portugal
Mozambique 1975 Portugal
Cape Verde 1975 Portugal
Comoros 1975 France
Sao Tome and Principe 1975 Portugal
Angola 1975 Portugal
Western Sahara 1976 Spain
Seychelles 1976 U.K.
Djibouti 1977 France
Zimbabwe 1980 U.K.
Namibia 1990 South Africa
Eritrea 1993


Please note that this timeline is largely about European colonization of African countries in the 19th century; we have not included the Ottoman occupation of North Africa in an earlier era.