Speaking about and speaking for the Third World: representations of women's and girls' agency in child marriage discourses

Bessa, Thais Silveira ORCID: 0000-0002-9859-5422 (2021). Speaking about and speaking for the Third World: representations of women's and girls' agency in child marriage discourses. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Over the past two decades, child marriage has become an increasingly prominent issue in human rights and international development agendas. Prevailing child marriage discourses reveal the fetishization of issues affecting women and girls to demonstrate Third World backwardness. Mobilising key postcolonial feminist theory interventions on representation and agency, this thesis explores how the West speaks about and speaks for the Third World and unmasks the details of the global discourse production on child marriage. Using critical discourse analysis to locate child marriage within broader historical, institutional, and political contexts, I found that child marriage is constructed as a “Third World problem” explained through culture and agency, conceptualised within liberal frameworks of choice and emancipation. Although it appears that the discursive production of Third World women and girls has moved from victim into heroic agent and that rescue was repackaged into empowerment, I argue that both representations perpetuate the colonial encounter and maintain the agency of Third World women and girls narrowly circumscribed to resistance. By questioning how “traditional cultural practices” affecting women and girls are used to reinforce binaries of modern/traditional and oppression/resistance, this thesis contributes to postcolonial feminist theorising of representations of Third World women and girls and of their agency.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Smith, NicolaUNSPECIFIEDorcid.org/0000-0002-5103-2454
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11548


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