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SO112-15 International Perspectives on Gender

Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Maria do Mar Pereira
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

What do the voices of black women domestic workers in South Africa tell us about apartheid? What roles are there for men in the ongoing struggle for gender equality in post-apartheid South Africa? How did Chairman Mao’s idea that ‘women hold up half the sky’ impact on Chinese gender relations after the Communist Party came to power in 1949? Was China’s recently rescinded one-child policy an abuse of reproductive rights or an unanticipated way to further gender equality?

Why did both the Indian nationalist movement and the British colonial authorities mobilize the concept of gender equality in the struggle for Indian independence? What do recent demonstrations by women in India, such as SlutWalks and the Pink Chaddhi Campaign, tell us about the prospects for Indian feminism today? Are all contemporary Iranian women passive victims of Islamic fundamentalism, and what did the Revolution in Iran mean for men and masculinities? Does the ‘veil’ liberate or oppress Muslim women and what does it mean to those who wear it?

These are all questions you’ll be exploring on this module, which introduces some of the diverse manifestations of gender around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Module web page

Module aims

To introduce students to some of the diverse manifestations of gender around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, using case studies from china, South Africa, India and Iran. Themes of resistance, work, sexuality, reproduction, family and religion are pursued in order to facilitate analytical connections between cases studies. Particular attention is paid to the symbolic importance of gender and the extent to which it is at the centre of religious and political ideologies that have dominated the last 100 years: colonialism; nationalism; socialism; religious fundamentalism.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Week 1 Why and How to Study Gender in International Perspective
Week 2 Gender, Colonialism and Nationalism in India
Week 3 Gender, Feminism and Post-colonial India: The Importance of Intersectionality
Week 4 Apartheid, Resistance and Articulations of Gender, ‘Race’ and Class in South Africa
Week 5 Gender, ‘Equality’ and the Post-Apartheid Era in South Africa
Week 6 Sociology Department Reading Week (no lecture or seminars)
Week 7 Gender, Religion and the State in Iran
Week 8 Multiple Meanings: Islamic Women and the ‘Veil’/Hijab
Week 9 Gender and Communism in Maoist China
Week 10 Gender, State Socialism and Capitalism in Contemporary China

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • 1. Demonstrate good understanding of the diverse social and cultural manifestations of gender in the twentieth and twenty first centuries in China, South Africa, Iran and India, and their link to broader history in the case study countries.2. Demonstrate competence in comparing and contrasting the four case studies and pursuing thematic analysis.3. Demonstrate good understanding of the importance of disaggregating categories of male and female and the ways in which gender is constructed in articulation with other social and cultural identities.4. Demonstrate the ability to understand and analyse the relationships between gender and colonialism; nationalism; socialism; religious fundamentalism.5. Demonstrate an appreciation of individual and collective resistance to and transformation of gender inequalities in the case studies.6. Demonstrate the ability to make scholarly written presentations on international perspectives on gender, locating, retrieving, processing and analysing relevant material from the list of sources provided.
Indicative reading list
  • Bailey, Paul J. (2012) Women and Gender in Twentieth-Century China, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bahramitash, Roksana and Eric Hooglund (Eds) (2011) Gender in Contemporary Iran: Pushing the Boundaries, New York: Routledge.
  • Banerjee, Sikata (2012) Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004, New York: New York University Press.
  • Brown, Gavin (2013) 'Unruly Bodies (Standing Against Apartheid)', in Angus Cameron, Jen Dickinson and Nicola Smith (Eds) Body/State, Farnham; Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 145-156.
  • Brownell, Susan and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom (Eds) (2002) Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities: A Reader, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Chaudhuri, Maitrayee (2004) Feminism in India, New Delhi: women unlimited/ Kali for Women
  • Gouws, Amanda (Ed.) (2005) (Un)Thinking Citizenship: Feminist Debates in Contemporary South Africa, Aldershot: Ashgate Publications.
  • Greenhalgh, Susan (2008) Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng's China, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Heath, Jennifer (Ed.) (2008) The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Lore and Politics, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Hunter, Mark (2010) Love in the Time of AIDS: Inequality, gender and rights in South Africa, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Irudayam, Aloysius S.J., Mangubhai, Jayshree P. and Lee, Joel G. (2011) Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, class and gender violence in India, New Delhi: Zubaan.
  • Moghissi, Haideh (2004) Women and Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology, London: Routledge.
  • Ruspini, Elizabetta, Jeff Hearne, Bob Pease, and Keith Pringle (Eds) (2011) Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men's Practices, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Said, Edward (1995) Orientalism: Western conceptions of the Orient, London : Pengun (first published 1978).
  • Sharify-Funk, Meena (2008) Encountering the Transnational Women, Islam and the Politics of interpretation, Aldershot; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
  • Yuval-Davis, Nira (1997) Gender and Nation, London: Sage.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Cognitive Skills

In the process of developing a substantive understanding of diverse international social and cultural manifestations of gender in the twentieth and twenty first centuries, students will acquire the ability to:

  1. Assess critically comparative social and cultural manifestations of gender, the complex ways in which gender is constructed in articulation with other social and cultural identities, and the differential impacts this has on individual capacities to exercise agency.

  2. Locate, retrieve, process and evaluate a wide range of materials about gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, age, sexuality, class, religion and nationality in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

  3. Evaluate competing and complementary theoretical frameworks for understanding the interaction of gender with other social and cultural identities.

  4. Make scholarly presentations, verbal and written, on the substantive and theoretical issues covered in the module material.

Transferable skills

Students will learn the following transferable skills:
Think analytically
Enhance communication and verbal skills
Develop confidence in teamwork /group work
Increase confidence in presentation skills
Develop leadership skills

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Tutorials (0%)
Project supervision (0%)
Private study 132 hours (88%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading and other preparation for seminars. Preparation and writing of critical review of article and essay.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Critical review of an Article 25%

Students are required to work independently to critically review an article selected by the module lead.

1500 word essay 75%

Students are required to submit a 1500 word essay responding to a list of essay questions which will be provided in the early weeks of the module.

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback will be provided on the critical review of article and essay within the University's 20 working day policy. Verbal feedback on the critical review and essay may be sought by students through an appointment or during staff office hours.




This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of UHIA-VL13 Undergraduate History and Sociology
  • Year 1 of UPOA-ML13 Undergraduate Politics and Sociology
  • Year 1 of USOA-L300 Undergraduate Sociology
  • USOA-L314 Undergraduate Sociology and Criminology
    • Year 1 of L314 Sociology and Criminology
    • Year 2 of L314 Sociology and Criminology
  • Year 1 of UIPA-L3L8 Undergraduate Sociology and Global Sustainable Development
  • Available as an outside option
  • LL23 BA Politics and Sociology