Africa After Gender?
Publication Year: 2007
Gender is one of the most productive, dynamic, and vibrant areas of Africanist research today. But what is the meaning of gender in an African context? Why does gender usually connote women? Why has gender taken hold in Africa when feminism hasn't? Is gender yet another Western construct that has been applied to Africa however ill-suited and riddled with assumptions? Africa After Gender? looks at Africa now that gender has come into play to consider how the continent, its people, and the term itself have changed. Leading Africanist historians, anthropologists, literary critics, and political scientists move past simple dichotomies, entrenched debates, and polarizing identity politics to present an evolving discourse of gender. They show gender as an applied rather than theoretical tool and discuss themes such as the performance of sexuality, lesbianism, women's political mobilization, the work of gendered NGOs, and the role of masculinity in a gendered world. For activists, students, and scholars, this book reveals a rich and cross-disciplinary view of the status of gender in Africa today.
Contributors are Hussaina J. Abdullah, Nwando Achebe, Susan Andrade, Eileen Boris, Catherine M. Cole, Paulla A. Ebron, Eileen Julien, Lisa A. Lindsay, Adrienne MacIain, Takyiwaa Manuh, Stephan F. Miescher, Helen Mugambi, Gay Seidman, Sylvia Tamale, Bridget Teboh, Lynn M. Thomas, and Nana Wilson-Tagoe.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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A project of this scope comes to fruition only through the collaborative energies of many dedicated individuals and the financial generosity of institutions. The initial impetus for the book came from a conference entitled “Africa After Gender? An Exploration of New Epistemologies for Africa Studies,” hosted by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s African Studies Research Focus Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in April 2001. Additional conference funding was provided by the University of California Humanities Research Institute in Irvine. Though we have only published here a few of the papers presented at the conference, we are grateful to...
Introduction: When Was Gender?
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In scholarship—as in real estate—location matters. This is especially true in the field of African gender studies. During the past two decades, the relationship between gender studies scholars based in Africa and those based in North America and Europe has been strained, even explosive. This is due in part to differences in political environments and experiences of racism, as well as interpretations of feminist...
Part One: Volatile Genders and New African Women
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1. Out of the Closet: Unveiling Sexuality Discourses in Uganda
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The issue of homosexuality took center stage in Uganda during the month of February 2003, with the media being dominated by emotive views and opinions from the public. This wave of homophobia was triggered by a recommendation emanating from a section of the women’s movement that urged the proposed Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to address the rights of homosexuals as members of the category of...
2. Institutional Dilemmas: Representation versus Mobilization inthe South African Gender Commission
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When South Africa’s first democratically elected government came to power in 1994, its rhetoric was explicitly feminist. While the country’s new leaders promised above all to address the racial inequalities inherited from centuries of white domination, they also viewed gender equality as a key goal. In his inauguration speech—triumphant after a half-century struggle against apartheid, the system under which South Africa’s black majority was brutally controlled by a white minority—newly elected president...
3. Gendered Reproduction: Placing Schoolgirl Pregnancies in African History
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More than fifteen years ago, Nancy Rose Hunt (1989) noted the profound irony that while much scholarship on women and gender in African history has been framed through the Marxist-feminist analytics of production and reproduction, historians have left the conventional meaning of reproduction—procreation— largely unexplored. The first generation of women’s historians, largely Europeans and Americans, focused...
4. Dialoguing Women
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When I think of my identity, a number of questions immediately come to mind. First, what does it means to be African? Second, what does Africa (and especially Nigeria) mean to me? And third, how do I choose to locate and name myself ?2 The issue of how I choose to name myself informs my very identity. I am first and foremost Igbo, then I am a woman, and third I am African. Only last do I name myself Nigerian....
Part Two: Activism and Public Space
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5. Rioting Women and Writing Women: Gender, Class, and the Public Sphere in Africa
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This chapter examines the value, both formal and received, of literary writing by women, specifically of novels in English and French. I investigate the relation of class and gender to the emerging public civil sphere as colonialism in Africa gave way to independent nation-states. At a time when the cultural production and political agitation of African men were easily assimilated to a nationalist paradigm, the culture and...
6. Let Us Be United in Purpose: Variations on Gender Relations in the Yor�b� Popular Theatre
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The marriage of gender and African studies—a shotgun wedding of sorts, greeted with as much controversy as celebration—has encouraged a large-scale reexamination of both disciplines and has initiated long-overdue dialogue among peripheral disciplines. The resulting liaisons have frequently been passionate and contentious power struggles, each discipline grappling for top billing and/or final analysis. Yet these heated struggles have ironically underlined the need for, and indeed paved the way...
7. Doing Gender Work in Ghana
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“What can we do for African women?” “What about micro-credit?”1 my new friends asked, as we sat sipping wine in the lounge of a beautiful residence hall of a small American college in mid-2005. As the interrogation progressed, I was amazed at the almost absolute lack of knowledge about Africa and its people in the twenty-first century by these well-meaning, well-educated senior women college professors attending a women’s...
8. Women as Emergent Actors: A Survey of New Women’s Organizations in Nigeria since the 1990s
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The 1990s in Nigeria can be described as the decade of nongovernmental organization (NGO) activism due to a surge of activity in that sector. This was a direct response to changes in the political and economic landscape of the country. At the political level, the widespread violation of human rights by various military regimes since 1984 coupled with political repression, extrajudicial killings, disregard for the rule...
Part Three: Gender Enactments, Gendered Perceptions
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9. Constituting Subjects through Performative Acts
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A chasm between North and South has worked its way into much of contemporary feminist theory. On one side of the divide, proponents generate notions in which the very definition of theory is that which “speaks” to the universals of humanity; on the other side of this gulf, proponents are forced to address specific and concrete issues of colonialism, culture, and conventions of representation. Yet what if...
10. Gender After Africa!
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I want to turn the question “What impact has gender as a category of analysis had on the study of Africa?” upside down, so to speak, and ask, if somewhat flippantly, “What can Africa do for gender?” I make this move not to replicate the colonialist expropriation of African peoples and land, long a characteristic of Western investigation that found objects/subjects of research in the subcontinent and forced its intellectual...
11. When a Man Loves a Woman: Gender and National Identity in Wole Soyinkas’s Death and the King’s HorsemanScarlet Song
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Literature as we know it today is a gendered practice. This is not because gendered lives are its referents: the study of those real lives is primarily the work of historians, sociologists, and anthropologists. Rather it is through the workings of the material worlds of publishing, teaching, and criticism, through narrative processes of selection and omission and strategies of representation, that literature is gendered. These processes...
12. Representing Culture and Identity: African Women Writers and National Cultures
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The problem with the notion of culture in African literature is that it is often embedded in representational narratives of the nation and shaped by the politics of national emergence. In such narratives, “culture” becomes part of a political process of constructing the distinctive identity of a national collective through the representation of its...
Part Four: Masculinity, Misogyny, and Seniority
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13. Working with Gender: The Emergence of the “Male Breadwinner” in Colonial Southwestern Nigeria
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As the title implies, this chapter is about the development of a male breadwinner ideal among wage earners in Yor�b�land, Nigeria.1 At first glance, Nigeria seems an unlikely setting for any study of wage labor, since the vast majority of its economically active population has always been, and still is, engaged in nonwage activities. An International Labour Organization report of the mid-1950s listed Nigeria as the African...
14. Becoming an Ⴢpanyin: Elders, Gender, and Masculinities in Ghana since the Nineteenth Century
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In many African societies, gender has a close relation to seniority. Having achieved the position of an elder, a man or woman embodies a different gender. This significance of elderhood exemplifies the flexibility and multiplicity of gender. Some scholars have taken the position that seniority supersedes gender in Africa. For example, Oyeronke Oyewumi (1997) has questioned the salience of gender as an analytical category among Yor�b� societies in Nigeria. She notes that the Yor�b� language, as other African...
15. “Give Her a Slap to Warm Her Up”: Post-Gender Theory and Ghana’s Popular Culture
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Sexism in West African popular theatre is so ubiquitous that it “goes without saying” and has gone without extensive commentary in the growing literature on this topic.1 Africa After Gender? provides an opportunity for further reflection on the dynamics of gender in West African popular culture, an arena that because of its popularity offers a unique window...
16. The “Post-Gender” Question in African Studies
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Through life-cycle socialization, popular culture, or academic theorization, gender formation and propagation continues as it did in ancient African folklore. Hence, the idea of “Africa after gender?” is tantalizing. It invites dialogue from scholarship that foregrounds gender as dynamic and always in flux. It is also problematized by Teresa de Lauretis’s...
The Production of Gendered Knowledge in the Digital Age
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In the past decade, the Internet has revolutionized the availability of information and the dissemination of knowledge throughout the world, especially in Africa (Everett 2002, forthcoming). In every major town across the continent, cybercaf�s have opened, and most universities are equipped with computers connected to the Internet. In many ways, electronic transmission of information has leveled the playing field and provided equal access to previously excluded...
Resources for Further Reading
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Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2007