SIS Olson Scholars
Annie, I really enjoyed listening to your proposed research on female empowerment. I like that you have resisted the temptation to focus on a specific region, because the social phenomena is such a globally discussed topic, it may be hard to analyse meaning-meaning changes through analysis of one region. Additionally, I am interested to see how your research into the Malala Fund tells something about the direction of discourses of female empowerment into the future, and I think it is is excellent that you acknowledged your background in addressing reflexivity in this project.
Looking ahead to 306 next semester, I wonder if government speeches you may propose to analyse may be chosen based on their gender or political ideology, and potentially your choice of whom to analyse will say something about the discourse of female empowerment.
Your research question seems a little muddled to me, especially with the other aspects of your project that you are presenting. You are researching NGOs that inherently follow western feminist ideas, while your research question (if I am correct in understanding) asks how development and feminist ideas come together to create education program propaganda. If that is true, then I think it would be far more interesting to look at non-feminist NGOS or groups that are not on the forefront of female empowerment as part of your study. Limiting yourself to just these one type of NGOs can cause you to make certain conclusions that may not be entirely accurate for your research question. If you only intend on researching feminist or feminist leaning NGOs then I would tailor your research question to that, because as of now it seems as though you are looking at groups, regardless of their leaning, and analyzing the media they put out and how that media can be tied back to feminism if at all.
With your presentation, you show a thorough understanding of the background of your research topic. Just as well, I understand your argument for employing an interpretivist approach versus the other methodologies we discussed in class. I faced similar issues in my own project that led me to choosing such a path.
If anything, I am most curious about your focus on non-governmental organizations on a global scale. With no specific geographical context, this could be difficult to manage as a project without a strict discipline to your research. Just as well, I am curious how you plan on dealing with smaller organizations that may create this propaganda, yet are limited by geographic boundaries within individual countries.
Otherwise, it may be important to consider other actors that may be influenced by this discourse. While you mentioned men at one point, it could be useful to understand how men are affected further due to power that female empowerment has in reorganizing economic and social circles in a country.
I look forward to further reading about your work next semester and seeing where this very important research question takes you!
Overall a very good job here Annie, and you’ve also received some good feedback from your group members to consider as you work on finalizing the final narrative paper. Returning to our course material (and the lecturelets on discourse analysis in particular) you might consider whether you are seeking to explain the *origins* of certain discourses about education and empowerment (how did we get to these understandings of education/empowerment?) or whether you are establishing the discourses and analyzing the *implications* of those discourses (given a set of intersubjective meanings about education/empowerment, how do we then understand the practices and actions that flow from those meanings, and the practices/actions that are blocked by those meanings?). There is a little bit of both in any discourse analysis, but the project will probably tend to lean one way or the other. Working with the notion of “empowerment as an uncontested good” is a very good starting point since, as we’ve read, we often recognize (hegemonic) discourses by finding statements that seem almost true without question or seem that things have “always” been that way. Keep up the good work–I look forward to seeing how the project develops.
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