ASC Hosts Rodney Lecture on Women, War and Agency

Credit: Tim Longman

The African Studies Center, an affiliated regional center of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, hosted a talk with Hilary Matfess, PhD student at Yale University and author of Women and the War on Boko Haram, as part of their Walter Rodney lecture series on February 4, 2019. 

In her talk, entitled “Women, War, and Agency: A Study of Boko Haram and Gender,” Matfess used the case of Boko Haram to explore women in conflict — arguing that framing women only as victims and peacemakers ignores the ways in which women exercise agency in times of conflict. 

In her work, Matfess examines how insurgencies’ internal organizational dynamics interact with external forces to shape conflict, with a focus on the use of atrocities like mass abductions and systemic sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, she conducted research on Boko Haram’s gender dynamics, developmental authoritarianism in Ethiopia and Rwanda, and economic reform in Tanzania. She also worked on issues of transnational threats to global security at the National Defense University, contributed to reports linking the security of women to the security of states with Futures without Violence, and worked as a freelance journalist. 

The Walter Rodney Seminar lecture series is interdisciplinary, and has included presentations by established and incipient scholars in all Africa-related disciplines, including history, anthropology, political science, economics, sociology, public health, literature, visual arts, musicology, religion, Islamic studies, international relations, and public diplomacy. “The Rodneys,” as they are often referred to, are a keystone of the weekly activities of the African Studies Center, and regularly fill the room with faculty, students, and community members.