Panel discussion with Augustine H. Asaah, Evelyne Accad, Elisabeth Bekers, Daniela Hrzán, Hilda Twongyeirwe, U. H. Ruhina Jesmin, and Sachiko Mitsumori
Moderated by Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana (Member, European Parliament) and Tobe Levin Freifrau von Gleichen
Research into ending female genital mutilation (FGM) – the official term espoused by the Inter-African Committee and UN agencies – has increasingly attracted attention from the academy in fields ranging from anthropology to medicine and literary studies. Grass-roots campaigns have benefited from parliamentary and European Union legislation. Inquiries have been launched, national action plans devised, and funds applied to protect girls from the blade. Yet anecdotal evidence reveals continued existence of the problem, -- complex, affective, and hydra-headed--, involving historical processes, religious beliefs, financial considerations, and aesthetics.
Literature, however, despite the popular appeal of memoir and fiction, has been undertheorized by advocates against customary genital abuse as a vehicle promoting positive change. Granted, the move from empathy to action has yet to be proven. Still, well-told stories are thought to make the erstwhile foreign more familiar and, hence, comprehensible. “With an antenna,” begins one study of Sudanese soap operas featuring FGM, “we can end” these harmful rites.
This webinar, a first of its kind, is intended as a catalyst for further research into relationships among reading, empathy, altruism, and media involving FGM.
Organized by MEP Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana (Green Party, Germany) with Dr. Tobe Levin Freifrau von Gleichen, Associate, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University, this webinar embraces literary and media studies to examine FGM as a theme in, for instance, music lyrics, myth, legend, storytelling, creative writing, graphic novels, comic books, cinema, TV, theater, and art. Literary studies are poised to supplement predominant social science approaches.