The First African Woman to Win the African Studies Association’s Distinguished Africanist Award

Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York, is the winner of the 2021 Distinguished Africanist Award from the African Studies Association. The award recognizes and honors individuals who have contributed a lifetime of outstanding scholarship in African studies combined with service to the Africanist community.

“In the 38 years since this award has been conferred, more than 50 percent have been given to White men and six to White women; no African woman has ever been recognized with this award,” said Professor Oyěwùmí. “The statistic makes explicit the racial and gender exclusions that are a fact of academic institutions, and American life. These numbers make even more poignant the widespread call for diversity, equality, and inclusion.”

Professor Oyěwùmí is the author of is the award-winning book The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) in which she documents the biological determinism embedded in Western knowledge systems, and the colonial origins of contemporary African gender organizations. The monograph won the 1998 Distinguished Book Award of the American Sociological Association, Sex and Gender Section. Her latest book is What Gender is Motherhood? Changing Yoruba Ideals of Power, Procreation, and Identity in the Age of Modernity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Professor Oyěwùmí was born in Nigeria and educated at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and the University of California, Berkeley.


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