Tanzania - ANT335H5F: Anthropology of Gender


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The Course

Survey of the function of gender roles from evolutionary and cultural perspectives. Cross-cultural variation in human sexual behaviour and gender will be examined. In some years, as part of this course, students may have the option of participating in an international learning experience that will have an additional cost and application process. Learn more here.

The Trip

The Gender in Development program immerses participants in Tanzania’s rich cultural landscape for a hands-on experience of how notions of gender are both locally situated and also shaped by global, religious, and different cultural influences. Travel with classmates, Professor Sarah Hillewaert, and a UTM staff member from the urban metropolis of Dar es Salaam to the rural settlements of the Serengeti and Old Town on the island of Zanzibar, we will explore how local understandings of femininity and masculinity have been shaped historically by mainland African, (transoceanic) Arab, and British colonial traditions, and how gender roles are renegotiated in contemporary Tanzania.

Upon arrival, we’ll orient ourselves with good food, language emergence, and a few meetings with local officials and NGO’s to learn about the country’s cultural, socio-economic and political context. Next, we’ll journey West to the regions of Kilimanjaro and Arusha where we’ll work alongside Femme International to explore how women in Tanzania’s Chagga and Masai communities are confronting gender inequality. Subsequently, we will immerse ourselves in family homestays while participating in workshops and small-scale community-based development projects initiated by local women. Finally, we’ll return to the coast and visit the historical capital of Zanzibar. Amongst the narrow alleyways and bazaars of Old Town, we will study the mixture of Arab, Indian, and Swahili influences to experience, yet again, different notions of gender and gender roles. While in Zanzibar, we will reflect upon our experiences in Tanzania; we will discuss lessons learned and share stories in preparation for the return journey home.

The combination of hands-on projects, cultural immersion, and adventure will provide an incomparable space for us to challenge ourselves and each other while reflecting on the links between gender, culture, (colonial) history, and notions of social justice.

Activities Include

  • Swahili lessons (local language);
  • Travel to Kilimanjaro and Arusha and work alongside local organizations to learn how women are confronting gender inequality;
  • Immerse yourself in family homestays;
  • Visit the island of Zanzibar where you'll experience notions of gender, different from the Tanzanian mainland.