Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



In: "The Personal is Indeed Political: Sex, Gender and the State," by Jill Vickers, Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique 50:2 (June / juin 2017) 621–623. doi:10.1017/S0008423917000245


Copyright © 2017 Canadian Political Science Association (l’Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique.


Alice Kang’s Bargaining for Women’s Lives is an impressive study of the competition between women activists and religious conservatives in Muslim-majority, francophone Niger. In this emerging democracy, Kang focuses on debates about women’s rights at the time when freedom of speech and assembly were being established. She explores how Niger handles women’s issues: who puts them on the national agenda, how they get framed and who decides. In a chapter discussing (unsuccessful) efforts to reform family law, Kang identifies the inability of colonial and post-colonial rulers to create central state structures as the problem since it left traditional Muslim authorities (sultans, emirs) administering family law with the power to block “women-friendly” reforms.