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PhD Students 2020-21

Amelia AmeDela Amemate

Amelia AmeDela Amemate

Amelia AmeDela Amemate

Gates Cambridge International Scholarship

Traditional Cultural Norms, Technology and Gender Relations in Ghana


Dr Holly Porter, University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


Traditional cultural norms play a role in how gender is conceptualised, understood, and portrayed in African societies. Although feminism is not new in many African cultures, women and non-binary gender identities continue to be disadvantaged by discriminatory cultural systems and structures. Technology has become a significant aspect of feminist efforts that are changing cultural norms and gender relations in many African societies. But the impact of technology also holds negative consequences for African women and non-binary gender identities. Citizens of countries like Ghana have used social media to shut down sexuality education and homosexuality legalisation efforts. My aim is to conduct a doctoral research to understand the relationship between traditional cultural norms in Ghana, technology and Ghanaian peoples’ perceptions of gender equality and non-binary gender identities and relations. The study will specifically explore the patrilineal and matrilineal systems and structures of the Ewe and Akan people of Ghana, respectively. It will also look at how cyberfeminism is changing the cultural norms that these two ethnic groups uphold regarding gender through a qualitative research approach.

Academic Background:

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Political Science with Archaeology, University of Ghana, Legon

Master of Arts (Distinction) American Culture Studies, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA

Graduate Certificate, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Bowling Green State University

Graduate Certificate, Ethnic Studies, Bowling Green State University

Research Interests:

Gender relations in African Cultures (with focus on Ghana), African feminism, Gender-Equality Activism, Cyberfeminism, Technology, Ethnic Identities, Racism, Tribalism, African Political Ideology and Development, Decolonialism, Hair and Beauty.

Namrata Narula

Namrata NarulaFrom Action to Freedom: Exploring the dialectics of feminist agency through classical Indian thought

Supervisor: Professor Ankur Barua (Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge)


The central aim of my dissertation is to advance ethical criteria for generating and structuring feminist action based on a compatibilist metaphysics of agency, namely, a conception that views the subject as dynamically constructed through relations of power, but nevertheless preserves the achievability of free actions within this relational framework. While there is copious discussion on the metaphysics of agency in contemporary philosophy, there remains a paucity of Euro-American philosophical approaches that actively combine these metaphysical perspectives with individual and collective ethical considerations. In other words, discussions on the possibility of free action rarely suggest to individuals how they may exercise their agential capacities and aspire towards freedom through the quotidian densities of their daily life. Classical Indian philosophical approaches, on the other hand, routinely frame individual ethics in light of metaphysical considerations – the question of who the self is and the question of how the self should act in the world are densely interrelated. The philosophical school of Advaita Vedānta, for example, argues that though the eternal Self seemingly becomes constrained by relations in samsāra (the worldly realm), it can nevertheless gain soteriological freedom through renunciation, and by meditating on key scriptural texts that reveal the non-dual nature of deep reality. Though such traditions provide a transcendental blueprint for individual action based on metaphysical theory, I will argue that they fall short in providing concrete forms of reasoning for how the relational subject can apprehend which of its actions ultimately lead to freedom, and which of its actions will only enhance its bondage. Feminist subjects are constrained and conditioned by relations of power that structure their desires, dislikes, identities, and politics. How then can feminists understand which of their individual and collective actions spring from an authentic exercise of agency, and which of these actions are enmeshed in the patriarchal frameworks within which they operate? Is this quest for 'authenticity' and a primordial self of undiluted freedom a doomed enterprise from the start? My dissertation will seek to answer some of these vexed questions through a decolonial philosophical approach that puts classical Indian metaphysics in active dialogue with some contemporary voices in Western philosophy, with the ultimate view of strengthening feminist politics, idioms, and action. This work also hopes to fill a lacuna in the study of Indian thought, as the question of how one can exercise agency within samsāra, in the contexts of non-dualism, is yet to receive sustained scholarly attention.

Research Interests:  

My research interests include postcoloniality, decoloniality, Vedāntic Philosophy, Mādhyamika Buddhism, South-Asian Sufism, Phenomenology, Ethics, Metaphysics, and Marxist thought.

Academic Background:  

MPhil in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies; Darwin College

B.A. (Honors) in Philosophy at St. Stephens College, University of Delhi 

Emmah Khisa Senge Wabuke

Emmah Khisa Senge WabukeGates Cambridge International Scholarship

Towards A Gendered Disarmament, Disengagement and Reintegration (DDR) Program in Countering Violent Extremism: The Somalia Conflict and Female Militancy in Al-Shabaab

Supervisor: Dr Holly Porter (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) 



Earlier generations of DDR Programming came into effect after completion of the armed conflict. However, ‘new wars’ such as violent extremism necessitates a DDR Program capable of operating in contexts of continuing threats to peace and security. While international stakeholders such as the UN and the AU are in the process of fine-tuning DDR-CVE Programs, my research project argues that it is important to include gender into these deliberations.

To do so, stakeholders must take note of inherent challenges facing a gendered DDR-CVE. These challenges predominantly stem from the constructions of gender in war. Gender inequalities in new wars emerge from varied factors, such as ‘predominance of male participation, differential forms of violence against men and women’ and falsehood of women as natural peacemakers, all of which give credence to the ‘mother/whore/monster’ narratives around female militants in terrorist groups. In proposing gender inclusion in DDR-CVE, therefore, we must also explore the origin and the impact of these narratives before proposing credible solutions on how to overcome the said narratives.

This thesis is contextualised within East Africa. While the Somalia conflict has intermittently received global responses, by and large, Al Shabaab remains a regional threat in terms of location of its attacks (Somalia, Kenya and Uganda), its composition (mostly from Somalia Kenya and Mozambique) and its goals (institution of Sharia Law in Somalia and neighbouring countries). Therefore, this thesis argues that it is important to measure the effectiveness of any proposed solution within the region. Specifically, the gendered construction of war should be analysed against a backdrop of African Feminism in an attempt to isolate the tenets, if any, of an African theory of gender, militarisation and securitization in war.

Academic Background:

Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) at University of Nairobi, Kenya

Master of Laws (LL.M) at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Postgraduate Diploma in Law, Kenya School of Law, Nairobi, Kenya


Wabuke E.S (forthcoming) ‘COVID-19, Access to Rights and Countering Violent Extremism Among Vulnerable Women: Reflections and Propositions from Kenya’ (Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town ESCR Rights Book Project, December 2020)

Wabuke E.S., (et al), Judicial Review and Public Power in Kenya: Revisiting Judicial Response to Select Political Cases (Springer Publishers, 2017)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Mapping the Legal Contours of Presidential Electoral Law in Kenya: A Case Review of Raila Odinga v IEBC Presidential Election No. 1 of 2017’ in Muna Ndulo (ed) Handbook of African Law (Routledge/Taylor and Francis Publishers, forthcoming, December 2020)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Female Militancy in Terrorist Groups and the African Union Counter- Terrorism Response’ African Peace and Security Journal (2018)

Wabuke E.S, (et al), ‘The Fission and Fusion in International Use of Force’ 48 Case Western Journal of International Law (2015)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Towards a Better Approach in Protection of Religious Freedom: Introducing the Structural Interdict’ University of Nairobi Law Journal (2015)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Regional Organizations’ Application of R2P: The ECOWAS Military Intervention Into the Gambia’ (Lawfare Blog, May 22, 2019)

Wabuke E.S, ‘The Kenya–Somalia Maritime Dispute and Its Potential National Security Costs’ (Lawfare Blog, May 15, 2019)

Wabuke E.S, ‘Improving Electoral Cyber-security in Kenya’ (Lawfare Blog, September 1, 2017) at>

Wabuke E.S, ‘Mapping the Legal Contours for Internal Deployment of Military Forces in Kenya’ (Lawfare Blog, August 10, 2017) at

Wabuke E.S, ‘Not All Amnesty Deals Are Made the Same’ (Foreign Policy Magazine, October 6, 2017) at

Wabuke E.S, ‘The Making of a Feminist Political Constituency or How to Theorize a Bonobo Sisterhood Polity’ (UCT Centre of Law and Society) at