African feminisms have foregrounded the body as the canvas and locus on which much of the resistance to the processes of colonial othering takes place and as a critical site that bears race, gender, sexual and reproductive capacities as well as the vulnerabilities of the disabled, and less capacitated.
Previous issues of Agenda have highlighted the intersection between body politics, gender and human rights, and noted the dangers of the homogenisation of African bodies by the ideologies of the West in deciding what is African and what is not. Unruly, resistant, disobedient and non-conforming bodies have therefore been read as often unsettling and subverting the gender hierarchy in opposition to patriarchy.
In the South African context it has been the white male heteronormative body which has often been privileged as the norm, against attempts to pacify the resistant body. This issue seeks to take gender and body politics further as well as addressing gender and bodies in relation to scientific and biological knowledge constructions and their significance for how gender/s and sex/es are situated by dominant positivist medical and medico-legal discourses. In the biopolitical sense employed by Foucauldian theory (Foucault, 1978), the issue seeks to engage with how groups and populations are governed, and in the process marginalised, excluded and frequently pathologised and mis/represented as ‘not properly human’ or ‘not capable’ of exercising reproductive rights.