Department of Women's and Gender Studies University of Missouri Department of Women's and Gender Studies

Tola Olu PearceTola Olu Pearce

Professor, WGST and Sociology
phone: 573-882-7265

Tola Pearce has a joint appointment in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, and has been teaching at MU since 1994. She received her PhD at Brown University, Providence. Previously, she taught at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, the University of Oregon, Eugene, Northwestern University, Evanston, and SUNY, Fredonia. Her areas of specialization are Medical Sociology, Social Inequalities, Globalization and Development Studies.

Research Interests

Within the sub-specialty of medical sociology, Pearce initially focused on two broad issues. The first dealt with processes of social change resulting from the encounter between indigenous and Western-style medical systems. The process of hybridization among professional health providers, and the general population were the main concern in an effort to critique modernization theory. Nigerians were viewed as individuals and groups with agency. The other focus was on the role of women as caretakers in the household. Women are responsible for much of the lay health care occurring in the home. Taken together the research on women and children emphasizes the importance of understanding care-work in terms of the interactions between micro-level (individual's characteristics), meso-level (group membership and the social location of one's group in society) and macro-level (economic contexts, national policies, international communication) phenomena. Thus access to information, the state of the health care environment are as important as the will of mothers to seek medical care for their children, or their own reproductive health care.

More recently, Pearce has pursued an interest in the outcome of economic globalization on the African continent. Of particular interest has been the impact of the neo-liberal policies on women, local responses and survival strategies. Again, attention needs to be paid to the syncretism between indigenous institutions and beliefs on one hand, and Western cultural systems and organizations on the other. A growing response to globalization has been an enhanced interest in gender and human rights across the African continent. Pearce is presently focusing on issues of governance from the household to the international level. beginning with the ongoing attempt among women and other disadvantaged groups in Africa to grapple with imported concepts and practices.

Courses Taught

  • Gender and Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Social Perspectives on Women, Race and Class
  • Women, Development and Globalization
  • The Politics of Reproduction and Fertility Control
  • Seminar: Problems and Issues in Feminist Scholarship
  • Women and Health in Africa

Selected Publications

  • Pearce, T O. 2011 "What Lies Beneath: Foundations of the US Human Rights Perspective and the Significance for Women" in Human Rights in Our Own Backyard: Injustice and Resistance in the United States, edited by W. Armaline, D. Glasberg and B. Purkayastha, University of Pennsylvania Press, pp 201-211.
  • Pearce, T. O. 2008 "Women's Rights" in The Leading Rogue State: The United States and Human Rights. Edited by Blau, J and D. Brunsma, et al. Published by Paradigm Press, Boulder, Colorado.
  • Pearce, T. O. 2006 "Synthesis Report on The Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (Beijing+ 10)." Submitted to The Africa Centre for Gender and Development, United Nations-ECA.
  • Pearce, T.O. 2005 "The Contextual Impact of Development and Globalization on African Women." UM Peace Studies Review Vol.1 # 2. pp 49-61.
  • Pearce T. O 2002. "Cultural Production and Reproductive Issues: The Significance of the Charismatic Movement in Nigeria" Pp 21-50 in Religion and Sexuality in Cross-cultural Perspective. Edited by Ellingson, S. and M. Green, Routledge.
  • Pearce T. O 2001 "Human Rights and Sociology: Some Observations from Africa" Social Problems Vol. 48 # 1: 48-56.
  • Pearce, T. O. 2000 "Keeping Children healthy: The Challenge of Preventive care Among Women in Southwestern Nigeria". Journal of Comparative Family Studies. XXX1 2:263-279.
  • Pearce T. O. 2000. Gender and Governance: A Conceptual Framework for Research, Policy and Monitoring. UN-ECA Publication.
  • Pearce T. O. 2000. "Death and Maternity in Nigeria" in African Women's Health. Edited by Turshen, M., African World Press.
  • Pearce T. O. 1999 "She will not be listened to in public: Perceptions among the Yoruba of Infertility and Childlessness in women." Reproductive Health Matters. 7 13:69-79.


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Last modified: 19-May-2016