Eleanor Tiplady Higgs (UK) is currently Lecturer in Sociology at Brunel University, London. She is an interdisciplinary feminist scholar in the humanities who completed her PhD in Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London in 2018. She was previously Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at University of Cape Town, and Fellow of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, in the 'Moralities' research section. Her first monograph, Narrative, Identity and Ethics in Postcolonial Kenya The Young Women’s Christian Association was published by Bloomsbury Academic in July 2021.
This project will analyse the uses and effects of vocabularies of ‘Christianity’ and ‘feminism’, and associated key words, in the internal discourse, day-to-day work, and narrative identity construction of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) at the level of the transnational umbrella organisation, the World YWCA, based in Geneva. I will use data gathered from a combination of participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis in relation to discussions at the quadrennial meeting of the World YWCA Council in November 2019, and the perspectives of Ghana YWCA on these. In order to understand the ways in which the YWCA talks and ‘thinks’ about Christianity and feminism, and how they inform its gender work on the continent of Africa, the analysis will take into account the interconnected contexts of post/colonialism, the international development industry, Christianities (plural), churches, and their social and political interventions, and imperialist (white) feminisms. These power relations and discourses, in which the YWCA is embedded locally and transnationally, give meaning to ‘Christianity’ and ‘feminism’ and shape how and when they are interpreted and deployed.