How did African women negotiate the complex political, economic, and social forces of colonialism in their daily lives? How did they make meaningful lives for themselves in a world that challenged fundamental notions of work, sexuality, marriage, motherhood, and family? By considering the lives of ordinary African women-farmers, queen mothers, midwives, urban dwellers, migrants, and political leaders-in the context of particular colonial conditions at specific places and times, Women in African Colonial Histories challenges the notion of a homogeneous "African women's experience." While recognizing the inherent violence and brutality of the colonial encounter, the essays in this lively volume show that African women were not simply the hapless victims of European political rule. Innovative use of primary sources, including life histories, oral narratives, court cases, newspapers, colonial archives, and physical evidence, attests that African women's experiences defy static representation. Readers at all levels will find this an important contribution to ongoing debates in African women's history and African colonial history.
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 15 mm
This volume is a good example of what can be learned from and about a previously mute and oppressed constituency: native women in colonized sub-Saharan Africa. As is common in anthologies, the quality of the essays is uneven, although (or because?) the editors conscientiously strove for breadth in terms of topics, regions, and nationality of the colonial powers. The introduction neatly summarizes the theme and something of the evolution of the volume. The authors set their chapters in temporal and cultural context, and ample endnotes are helpful but do not interfere with the generally clear and well-organized exposition. Specific topics range from women's roles in a grass-roots army of national liberation, loss of queen-mothers as checks on tribal regents, linguistic play as part of a local rebellion against political corruption, midwifery as a new and culturally conflicted role, and compulsory examination of travelers for sexually transmitted diseases, among others. Recurrent is the pattern that traditionally dominant local males acceded to (or encouraged?) economic and other domination of women on the part of European colonizers. This is an interesting and revealing exploration of an important population that has long been neglected. All levels and collections.-- D. B. Heath, Brown University * Choice *
"This is an interesting and revealing exploration of an important population that has long been neglected. All levels and collections.December 2002"* Choice *