Women in African Colonial Histories

Women in African Colonial Histories

Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/01/2002
Format: Paperback 2 b&w photos, 2 maps, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21507-9
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


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.

Author Bio

Jean Allman teaches African History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is author of The Quills of the Porcupine: Asante Nationalism in an Emergent Ghana and co-author (with Victoria Tashjian) of "I Will Not Eat Stone": A Women's History of Colonial Asante. Her research on gender, colonialism, and social change has appeared in numerous journals.

Susan Geiger is Professor Emeritus of Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is author of TANU Women: Gender and Culture Change in the Making of Tanganyikan Nationalism, 1955-65. She has published over a dozen articles on African women's history and the uses of life history in historical research. She serves on the editorial board of SIGNS.

Nakanyike Musisi is Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She has authored many chapters and articles on Baganda women. Her research interests include state formation, customary law, education, and environmental issues.


“Innovative uses of primary sources, including life histories, oral narratives, court cases, newspapers, colonial archives, and physical evidence attest that African women's experiences defy static representation. By considering the lives of farmers, queen-mothers, urban-dwellers, migrants and political leaders in the context of particular colonial conditions at specific periods of time, this book challenges, in fundamental ways, the notion of a homogeneous "African woman's experience."”

“Readers of this volume will find a number of real gemes in each section. . . . Instructors can not only expose their students to the latest researchbut also provide a primary source that the students can use to hone their own reading and analytical skills.”
 — Journal of African History

“This is an interesting and revealing exploration of an important population that has long been neglected. All levels and collections.December 2002”
 — Choice

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Introduction Jean Allman, Susan Geiger, and Nakanyike Musisi

Part 1. Encounters and Engagements
1. "What My Heart Wanted": Gendered Stories of Early Colonial Encounters in Southern Mozambique Heidi Gengenbach
2. Dynastic Daughters: Three Royal Kwena Women and E. L. Price of the London Missionary Society, 1853-1881 Wendy Urban-Mead
3. Colonial Midwives and Modernizing Childbirth in French West Africa Jane Turrittin

Part 2. Perceptions and Representations
4. The Politics of Perception of Perception as Politics?: Colonial and Missionary Representations of Baganda Women, 1900-1945 Nakanyike Musisi
5. "The Woman in Question": Marriage and Identity in the Colonial Courts of Northern Ghana, 1907-1954 Sean Hawkins
6. Colonialism, Education, and Gender Relations in the Belgian Congo: The Évolué Case Gertrude Mianda
7. Virgin Territory?: Travel and Migration by African Women in Twentieth Century Southern Africa Teresa Barnes
8. "When in the White Man's Town": Zimbabwean Women Remember Chibeura Lynette Jackson

Part 3. Power Reconfigured/Power Contested
9. Queen Mothers and Good Government in Buganda: The Loss of Women's Political Power in Nineteenth Century East Africa Holly Hanson
10. Marrying and Marriage on a Shifting Terrain: Reconfigurations of Power and Authority in Early Colonial Asante Victoria Tashjian and Jean Allman
11. "Vultures of the Marketplace": Southeastern Nigerian Women and Discourses of the Ogu Umunwaayi (Women's War) of 1929 Misty Bastian
12. "Emancipate Your Husbands!": Women and Nationalism in Guinea, 1953-1958 Elizabeth Schmidt
13. Guerrilla Girls and Women in the Zimbabwean National Liberation Struggle Tanya Lyons

Afterword Susan Geiger