Journal article

Cinderella of the south seas? Virtuous victims, empowerment and other fables of development feminism

Kalissa Alexeyeff

Women's Studies International Forum | Elsevier | Published : 2020


The developmental logic underpinning ‘Cinderella projects,’ in which women of the Global South are targeted for interventions intended to tap and expand their unrecognized economic and entrepreneurial potential. This version of ‘development feminism,’ constructs its female objects as both impoverished victim-subjects and as nascent market-oriented actors. Moreover, development feminist discourse, grounded as it is in seemingly universal ideas of women’s oppression, equality and economic participation, generates paradoxical effects in different social contexts. Drawing on ethnographic examples from Polynesia, the paper illustrates how a homogeneous concept of ‘woman’ makes little sense becaus..

View full abstract


Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant (FT FT140100299), "New Regional Labour Circuits in the South Pacific: Gender, Culture and Transnationalism," undertaken at the University of Melbourne. I am indebted to many for their input and feedback into this article, especially Penelope Schoeffel, Maree Pardy, and numerous participants whose names are anonymized in the work.