Amina Mama

Amina Mama bigraphy, stories - Nigerian-British writer, feminist and academic

Amina Mama : biography

19 September 1958 –

Amina Mama (born 19 September 1958) is a Nigerian-British writer, feminist and academic. Her main areas of focus have been post-colonial, militarist and gender issues. She has lived in Africa, Europe, and North America, and worked to build relationships between feminist intellectuals across the globe.


Mama moved from Nigeria to the UK and received her doctorate in organizational psychology from the University of London. Some of her early work involves comparing the situations of British and Nigerian women.See editor’s preface to Mama’s "Black Women, the Economic Crisis, and the British State", reprinted in Modern Feminisms (1992), ed. Maggie Humm, . She moved to the Netherlands and then back to Nigeria, only to encounter more upheaval in 2000. Then she moved to South Africa, where she began to work at the historically white University of Cape Town (UCT). At UCT, she became the director of the African Gender Institute (AGI) and helped to found its journal Feminist Africa.Karen MacGregor, "", Times Higher Education, 13 January 2006. Accessed 16 November 2012. Mama remains the editor of Feminist Africa.

In 2008, Mama accepted a position at Mills College in Oakland, California, United States. After moving, she commented: "I have learned America isn’t just a big, bad source of imperialism."Andrea Wolf, "Scholar describes issues facing African women", Contra Costa Times, 22 May 2008. Professor Mama became Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women’s Leadership at Mills—the first person to hold this position." faculty page at Mills College. She co-taught a class called "Real Policy, Real Politics" with Congresswoman Lee on topics concerning African and African-American women, including gender roles, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and militarism.Quynh Tran, " ", Mills College Newsroom, 5 February 2008. She is also Chair of the Department of Gender and Women Studies at the University of California, Davis."" on SSRC (Social Science Research Council), accessed 24 October 2012.

Mama is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Global Fund for Women, and advises several other international organizations. She has sat on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

One of her best known works is Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity. She is also involved in film work. In 2010, she co-produced the movie The Witches of Gambaga with Yaba Badoe.Yaba Badoe interviewed by Paul Boakye: "Women in Film: Yaba Badoe on The Witches of Gambaga", "Colorful Times", 1 October 2010."", accessed 24 October 2010.


Mama was born in 1958 in a mixed household. Her father is Nigerian and her mother is English. According to Mama, her eclectic family background and upbringing has shaped her worldview. Mama is married to Nuruddin Farah, with whom she has two children.Dinitia Smith, "", New York Times, 19 May 2004.

She grew up in Kaduna, an ethnically and religiously diverse town in northern Nigeria. Her ancestral roots on her paternal side trace back to Bida. Several members of Mama’s family were involved in the development of the post-colonial local educational system.Amina Mama interviewed by Elaine Salo, "Talking about Feminism in Africa", reproduced in Women’s World from Agenda, "African Feminisms I", no. 50 (2001). In 1966, she left her community in Nigeria due to anti-Muslim riots."", The Women’s Building, accessed 24 October 2012.


  • The hidden struggle: statutory and voluntary sector responses to violence against black women in the home. Runnymede, 1989; republished by Whiting and Birch, 1996. ISBN: 9781861770059
  • "Black Women and the Police: A Place Where the Law is Not Upheld", in Inside Babylon: The Caribbean Diaspora in Britain, ed. Winston James and Clive Harris. London: Verso, 1993. ISBN: 9780860914716.
  • Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender, and Subjectivity. New York: Routledge, 1995. ISBN: 9780415035446.
  • National machinery for women in Africa: towards an analysis. Third World Network, 2000. ISBN: 9789988602017.
  • "". African Studies Review 50 (1), April 2007.


Mama describes herself as a feminist and not a womanist, arguing that feminism originates in Africa and that white feminism "has never been strong enough to be ‘enemy’—in the way that say, global capitalism can be viewed as an enemy". She has criticized discourses of women in development for stripping gender studies of politically meaningful feminism.Thandika Mkandawire, "Introduction" to African Intellectuals: Rethinking Politics, Language, Gender and Development, ed. Thandika Mkandawire, London: Zed Books and CODESRIA, 2006. She has also argued that African universities continue to show entrenched patriarchy, in terms of both interpersonal sexism and institutional gender gaps.Candes Keating, "Universities riddled with gender bias, says UCT prof", Cape Argus, 9 August 2007.

A primary area of interest for Mama has been gender identity as it relates to global militarism. She is an outspoken critic of AFRICOM, which she describes as part of violent neocolonial resource extraction.Amina Mama, "", opendemocracy, 15 April 2012 (originally published September 2011).Amina Mama and Margo Okazawa-Rey, "", Feminist Africa 10, 2008.