Skip to main content Skip to navigation

International Women's Day

There are some Undergraduates in the History Department doing some great research at Warwick and beyond.

Rachel Annor-Agyei, who is an experienced undergraduate researcher having held a URSS in the past, has been selected as a delegate for the British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2021

Her paper will be a look at dancehall in historical perspective.

'To what extent has dancehall enabled Black women to reclaim their body and sexuality?'

Dancehall, a culture originating in late 1970s Jamaican society, though rooted in 17th and 18th century slave resistance, has been contended to be a space for Black female and femme liberation. Simultaneously, it has been considered as a space for violence, harm and danger for dark-skinned Black women, lesbian and bisexual women and working-class and poor women. Reading many extracts on Black women’s relationship to dancehall culture such as Stephanie Camp’s ‘Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South’, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf’s ‘Fabricating Identities: Survival and the Imagination in Jamaican Dancehall Culture’ and Carolyn Cooper’s ‘Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the “Vulgar” Body of Jamaican Popular Culture’ immensely guided my research. Alongside this, being in places where dancehall/bashment music is often played enabled me to arrive at the conclusion that dancehall culture does not enable all women to reclaim their bodies and sexuality. Instead, it merely acts as a form of Respite from oppressive structures; namely, patriarchy, colorism and racism that so often prevent them from reclaiming their bodies and sexuality. Respite refers to the volatile space and time in which some Black women engage in a sort of pseudo-survival; and engage with their sensuality within dancehall spaces when they can.

Lucy McCormick, who has experience as a blogger for Our Warwick has written about the Global History Reading group's discussion of Lucy Delap's work on Global Feminism.

Lucy McCormick

History Department Research Assistant at the University of Warwick, 2020/21

GHCC Reading Group Discusses Lucy Delap’s ‘Feminisms: A Global History’


Dr Lucy Delap’s Feminisms: A Global History was the subject of a reading group held by the University of Warwick’s Global History and Culture Centre. Delap is currently Deputy Chair of the History Faculty at the University of Cambridge, and her work focuses primarily on modern British and gender history. Feminisms was published in 2020 by Pelican.


As the title of Feminisms suggests, Delap engages with the plurality and heterodoxy of the movement. Using it as more of an umbrella term than a united set of beliefs and intentions, Feminisms brings to light the varied and expansive nature of a movement which aims to speak for all women across the globe. Delap is acutely conscious of the fact that feminism in history stretches far beyond the term ‘feminism,' whether that be because that particular word had not yet entered popular discourse, or the historical actor chose not to identify as a feminist. ‘Feminism’ therefore lacks a solid set of principles, because its power has so long been in its malleability to serve the specific purposes of its context.[1] Also of central importance to her global history are the divisions within the movement which so often fail to be acknowledged. Feminism has evolved into Black feminism, lesbian feminism, and transfeminism, to give a few examples, elucidating the way in which feminism has failed to include the experiences of non-white, non-Western, non-heterosexual, non-middle class women. Delap seeks to construct a ‘mosaic feminism’ to combat these exclusions within feminism; she announces in the Introduction her intention to work not only with ‘inherited fragments’ of feminism as a wider theme, but also bringing to light the distinct shapes it has taken in different cultures at different points in history.[2] Above all, Delap’s objective is not merely to identify the way in which feminism is and has been understood by different peoples, but rather what it has achieved and what it still seeks to achieve for women around the world in the twenty-first century.


The GHCC reading group discussed the newly published text, and the extent to which Delap achieved a global history of feminism. Bringing a wide range of expertise to the discussion, the participants offered examples of how Delap’s text engaged with feminist and women’s liberation movements outside of the Anglo-American tradition. The Indian Women’s Liberation Movement, we learned, rejected the term ‘feminism,’ because they felt labelling it as such associated their movement with the militant and anti-men sentiment they had seen advocated by some feminists in the West. Instead, the Indian Women’s Liberation Movement sought to operate within traditional gender roles in order to gain acceptance for their movement and thereby improve women’s rights. Another participant in the discussion provided an additional example of feminism taking different shapes in different times and places with China in the 1980s, in which proponents of women’s liberation had to blend feminism with Maoism. Echoing Delap’s sentiment in the Introduction, feminism rarely works alone, but often in tandem with other movements and sociocultural projects. This discussion greatly emphasised the breadth and depth of women’s liberation movements which Delap seeks to uncover in her text. The group was therefore supportive of the importance Delap affords to broadening the scope of the historical understanding of feminism beyond the West, and the use of a ‘mosaic feminism’ to do so.


There is no doubt that Delap sets herself an enormous task, which she acknowledges as necessitating an aerial study of “half of humanity.”[3] The group discussed at length the challenges of writing a global history — especially one of feminism — as the book’s title promises. This methodology demands a comprehensive exploration of what feminism has meant and achieved in each culture on its own terms. As one member of the discussion highlighted, Delap’s project helps to marry gender studies with global history — a field which has often been overlooked — and provide a space in which different experiences of feminism can engage with one another. Some members of the group raised their concerns that a global history such as this risked drawing oversimplified similarities between feminisms which overlooked their nuance and authenticity. Global histories cannot offer only a comparison with the Western model, but must engage deeply with each global feminism independently. However, this was met with the feeling from other participants that the titles Delap uses (such as: ‘Dreams,’ ‘Looks,’ and ‘Songs’) were an interesting way to take ostensibly superficial themes and investigate how feminists in different times and places responded to such ideas (whether this be similarly or not). For that reason, some discussants argued that Delap’s text made a significant step towards opening the discourse surrounding the many global models of feminism.


Whilst some members of the discussion critiqued Delap’s methodology (suggesting that as a global history, it required closer and deeper focus on each feminism it explored), the group also expressed an approval of the role her text played in making feminism a central and prominent subject area in global history. Drawing on anecdotes of the flagrance of contemporary misogyny in the media and daily life, the discussants were in agreement that texts such as Delap’s are crucial in highlighting the scope and pervasiveness of struggles for female equality. The significance of the text encountered no dispute; texts such as Feminisms and the methodology it employs are essential if the feminist movement is to be dissociated from its Eurocentrism, and truly offer a means of liberation for all women.

[1] Lucy Delap, Feminisms: A Global History, (Pelican, 2020), p.14.

[2] ibid, p. 20.

[3] ibid, p. 3.

This page has no content yet.