African Women

African Women

Early History to the 21st Century
Kathleen Sheldon
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/24/2017
Format: Hardback 20 b&w illus., 1 map, 1 table
ISBN: 978-0-253-02716-0
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African women's history is a topic as vast as the continent itself, embracing an array of societies in over fifty countries with different geographies, social customs, religions, and historical situations. In African Women: Early History to the 21st Century, Kathleen Sheldon masterfully delivers a comprehensive study of this expansive story from before the time of records to the present day. She provides rich background on descent systems and the roles of women in matrilineal and patrilineal systems. Sheldon’s work profiles elite women, as well as those in leadership roles, traders and market women, religious women, slave women, women in resistance movements, and women in politics and development. The rich case studies and biographies in this thorough survey establish a grand narrative about women’s roles in the history of Africa.

Author Bio

Kathleen Sheldon is an independent scholar who has a research affiliation with the Center for the Study of Women at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is author of Pounders of Grain: A History of Women, Work, and Politics in Mozambique and the Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa.


“Kathleen Sheldon's book provides a great spine around which one could build a women's history of Africa survey course or better yet, a feminist history of Africa survey course.”
 — Abosede George, Barnard College

“A comprehensive history of African women remains a necessity given that current histories of Africa are—after more than 45 years of scholarship on African women—mostly histories of men's actions. Kathleen Sheldon provides a thoroughly researched long view of African women's material lives, social relations, challenges, and forms of mobilization to change their societies.”
 — Judith Van Allen, Cornell University

“This comprehensive work on African women decisively adds to the understanding of the subject. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“This is an essential book that will enrich undergraduate classroom discussions and, hopefully, bring more attention to the rich and creative scholarship produced by scholars of gender and women’s studies.

 — Canadian Journal of African Studies

“This book should be regarded as a magisterial achievement, and will no doubt find a well-deserved place on a whole host of undergraduate reading lists.”
 — Gender & History

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Table of Contents

1. Women and Gender in Africa before 1700
2. Market Traders, Queens, and Slaves in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
3. Religion and Slavery in the Nineteenth Century
4. Colonial Era, 1850s to 1945: Work and Family
5. Politics, Leadership, and Resistance to Colonialism until 1945
6. Liberation Struggles and Politics from the 1950s to the 1970s
7. Work, Family, and Urbanization from 1970s to the 1990s
8. Women and Politics after Independence
9. Women at the Beginning of the 21st Century