Women In Africa


Welcome to the teaching forum on Women in African History!-Jean Allman

Women in Africa-Marjorie Bingham

Book suggestions-Kathleen J. Wininger

Text for African Art-Kristin Lehner

Re: Text for African Art-Amal Khairy

Women in Africa websites-Susan Kullman

Re: Women in Africa websites-Kathleen Sheldon

Fwd: Re: Women in Africa webssites-Kathleen Sheldon

Cora Ann Presley

Re: Women in Africa websites-Pamela McVay

Re: Women in Africa websites-Kathleen Sheldon

Re: Women in Africa websites-Kathleen J. Wininger

No title-Ackson M. Kanduza

Re: Women in Africa Websites-Kristin Lehner

African Women & Sexual Abuse-L. Kabasomi Kakoma

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Marissa Moorman

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Kathleen Sheldon

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Jean Allman

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Kathleen J. Wininger

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Lesley Agams

Re: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Jean Allman

No title-Marjorie Bingham

Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse-Kim Miller

African Women Role Models-Marjorie Bingham

Re: African Women Role Models-Amal Khairy

Re: African Women Role Models-Kathleen Sheldon

Re: African Women Role Models-Kathleen Sheldon

Re: African Women Role Models-Wendy Belcher

Thanks-Jean Allman

African women at grassroots, demographic/cultural level?-Maureen Tighe-Brown

Re: African women at grassroots, demographic/cultural level?-Jean Allman


From: Jean Allman

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to the teaching forum on Women in African History!In the previous forum on Women in World History, Merry Wiesner-Hanks notedthat sub-Saharan Africa remained very much on the margins of world andglobal history texts. That, I believe, is a good place for us to begin our discussions of women in African history. One of the most challenging obstacles to incorporating African women into world history is that Africa,itself, tends to have such a problematic relationship--especially sub-Saharan Africa--to world histories as they have been written. History tends to be cast as something that is generated outside of Africa and then happens TO the continent--the slave trade and colonialism being perfect examples. And when Africa does appear with any specificity in world histories, its entry is usually determined by the contours of empire (which in the case of the US classroom, generally means the British empire). Thus, Egypt enters as a representative of antiquity and South Africa as the story of colonial encounter and racism.

If Africa sits uncomfortably on the margins of world history, then African women have been, for the most part, relegated to the margins of the margins.If they appear at all in world histories, it is all too often as powerful queens (Egypt) or as beasts of burden (southern Africa). There is no middle ground--not that I'm suggesting there's a hidden truth to be found somewhere in the middle! But representation is an issue, as Merry suggested last month, and for Africa, and for histories of African women especially, representation is front and center as a matter of concern, especially in the classroom.

In my experiences, the world history text images of African women as queens or beasts of burden (images that have carried over from the very early days of African women's history writing), actually resonate very comfortably with images and stereotypes students carry with them into the classroom. Clearly these images--of African queens and of burdened victims--are loaded with cultural and political weight in the context of race relations in the contemporary US. Interrogating those images and their meanings for a diverse group of students has to be at the heart of any teaching strategy.

In the past two decades, a wealth of scholarly material in African women's history has appeared which helps us to complicate the histories of African women and to understand how and why these twin images--of queens/beastsof--have had so much purchase on the popular imagination. That scholarly work has written women into the large, pre-existing narratives of African history--precolonial state formation, slavery and the slave trade,colonialism and resistance, nationalism and struggles for security and sustainability. But it has also, especially in the past decade, raised completely new kinds of questions and begun to develop alternative chronologies of historical change that are not based on the experiences of male political elites.

Between 1971 and 1986, five monographs in African women's history were published. In the past two decades, the number has grown exponentially and that middle ground in all of its complexity has become clearer. There are now vast literatures that place women at the center of agricultural and social transformation in the countryside, as well as a rich and varied body of scholarship on women's organization and strategies of protest and resistance, on struggles for economic security in urban centers, on colonial domesticity and the sexual politics of colonialism. This scholarship does not just add women in and stir--it challenges old paradigms and asks entirely new sets of questions. And many of those questions are not just about women! As in other world areas, African women's history has produced rich gendered histories that are concerned not just with women as gendered historical subjects, but men, as well.

These developments in African women's history have been predicated upon the generation of new kinds of evidence and alternative kinds of archives. For much of the continent, primary documentary source material, especially for the precolonial period, was penned by outsiders--European travelers,missionaries, and traders--for whom African women were largely invisible.The very important exception, of course, is local documentation in Arabic script which is available not only for North Africa, but for much of the West African sahel and the East African coast. Because of the paucity of written sources, historians of women's and gender history in Africa, I think, have had to be especially adept at critically reading biased and often racist sources--looking for meaning between the lines and in the silences of the text. They have also been at the forefront of efforts to recognize new kinds of sources that are not in a weathered box in a colonial archive somewhere--songs and dance, cloth and pottery, and, of course, oral histories and personal narratives, especially for the colonial and early post-colonial periods.

Obviously, there are many challenges to writing African women back into African histories. But the obstacles to incorporating them into the grand narratives of world history as active and meaningful historical agents are even more daunting. As we think about classroom strategies that might address at least some of these challenges, I'd like to suggest, as a starting point, that we consider:

1) What are the popular stereotypes of African women that students bring with them to the classroom? Are they invested in those images? If so, why and how? In my undergraduate classrooms, there are always a number of students who expect about half the class to be devoted to female genital mutilation! What are the best practices for handling such baggage?

2) While all primary sources have their biases, the racial and gendered bias of the most readily available documentary sources on African women's history present their own particular set of problems when introduced to the classroom. What are some useful strategies for helping students to learn critical reading skills as they approach these documents? How do we encourage them to read between the lines, look for silences, contextualize their source?

3) What kinds of alternative forms of evidence (non-European, perhaps non-archival) can be introduced into the classroom? What kinds of sources work well for bringing African women's voices to the table? Oral Histories? Personal Narratives? Works of fiction? What are the strengths of these sources? What are their weaknesses? How might we avoid creating the impression that sources on African women fall into two categories--the European, and therefore the written and biased versus the African, and therefore the oral and the authentic?

I very much look forward to discussing these and other issues with you in the coming weeks.

With all good wishes,


[ Back to Index ]


From: Marjorie Bingham

Challenging is the word that comes most to mind in integrating African women's history into world history classes. There are so many Africas--the Tuareg with their lack of veils, leaving that to males,and their songs; the rain-queens of the Lovedu basing their power on religion not military, or the women working for rights in South Africa,only coming at it from Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaner, Indian, Coloured or white perspectives. (See Patricia Romero's Profiles in Diversity, 1998)Further, African written documents are few for early Sub-Saharan history. While Western women's history has been a long time in the making, since perhaps Christine de Pizan's (1365-1450) The Book of the City of Ladies, analytical African women's history is recent, with historians Margaret Strobel's Muslim Women of 1890-1979 or Christine Obbo's African Women: Their Struggle for Economic Independence, (1980). African history, generally, has not been spotlighted in world history courses except for ancient Egypt or such themes as exploration, slavery or colonization. The very diversity of Africa, with 45 countries in Sub-Sahara Africa alone and thousands of ethnic groups, also presents an intimidating prospect for teaching. And yet this second largest continent has a rich history and has produced intriguing women who are only recently being recognized.

Teaching African women's history also has some political challenges beside the academic. Racism has meant that African-American and recent African immigrant students have a personal stake in what is being taught about Africa. Making fun of Queen Victoria's prudery may offend few Old Stock students, but people of African heritage may have a sensitive view of their 19th century leaders. When Susan Gross and I first introduced, in 1983, two volumes of lessons on women in Sub-Sahara Africa to teachers, we received three main reactions. One was tension,often with African-American teachers, that the curricum might reflect badly on the positive African heritage that they were trying to bolster. Another reaction was praise, also from African-American teachers, for being inclusive and for preparing the lessons with the same framework we'd used for books on women in China, Japan, Ancient Greece and Rome,etc. A third group, while also supportive, questioned, How would this all fit into an already stuffed curriculum?

Some issues we knew might be controversial, like female genital mutilation (FGM), we put in an essay in the teacher's guide instead of the student text. Reactions to this choice varied. Some teachers thought the issue, FGM, ought to be confronted openly; confident their students could handle it. Others felt it might be seen so negatively by students that the positive image of Africa they had been aiming for might be destroyed. Still others knew their conservative school boards would cringe at the discussion of genitals, period. (For one way of treating the issue of FGM, see Sarah Hughes, Woman in World History,1997: 175-182.)

Though much has changed since the early 80's--I live in the Minnesota Twin-Cities which now has a Somali population of 50,000 and a Liberian one of 20,000-some of the issues of how we teach about African women reflecting our communities remain the same. How do teachers make thoughtful decisions about what to include and what not? How much should the make-up of our classes determine choices of which Africa to teach?

There is also a decision to be made about Africa or Sub-Sahara Africa. Looking back, I wish we had not divided Africa, putting North Africa with the Middle East and the rest as Sub-Sahara. For those who do, like the helpful Women in Sub-Sahara Africa by Iris Berger and E.Frances White, 1995, there is good reason to focus on cultures which often share language groups and ethnic values. But what may be lost is the role of women in resistance to Arab conquests, from leading troops to refusing to veil to maintaining old religions. Further, the seclusion of women among the Hausa or the Libyan might take quite different forms,but the ways in which the Hausa women kept their economic power through their daughters helps to inform us about the strategies available to women. (See Mary E. Smith's Baba of Kao, 1981) African women, north and south, also dealt with colonialism from the West, whether it was Queen Taytu of Ethiopia against Italy or Nzinga against the Portuguese or the many African women's groups who organized rallies, protest marches or fought. Or is trying to link themes of slave trade, colonial resistance, Women's rights over a whole continent just too much? How does a teacher decide what part of Africa to teach, when?

Also, do we need to develop different strategies for introducing the topic of African women? Teachers, myself included, often use the ripped from the headlines approach to opening a unit-some recent article to show that the topic has relevance to the immediate world. But current headlines dealing with Africa often suggest a new version of the old Dark Continent stereotype. In South African, out of 47 million, 6.3 million have Aids and their President Thabo Mbeki is suggesting sweet potatoes and garlic as cures. The most notable recent movie about Africa is Hotel Rwanda, poignantly describing genocide-and then there is Darfur. In some areas of Kenya, with men moving to city employment, the countryside is left to the 74% women left as running households and producing 80% of the Kenya's food supply. (See Barbara Thomas Stauterand Dianne Rocheleau, Gender, Environment and Development 1995) The two main wishes of African women generally, good water and adequate fuel, reflect how marginal life can be. These are, of course, real issues, but how can we temper, for our students, the negative images they see in famines, civil wars and medical emergencies? Do we balance South Africa with Botswana where real progress is being made in AIDS? Look more deeply into colonial policies that played one group against another or fostered sex segregated work forces? Do we drop the whole today's Relevance and begin with stories from olden times? (In student surveys on their favorite era in my Western civilization classes, I was always struck by how many liked the medieval period best--that courtly love orall the slashing? Shows students' views of relevance may be quite different than ours?)

Yet one more difficulty in teaching African history is that Arabs or Westerners wrote original documents for much early history while Africans' oral tradition was strong. Some of these foreign views are invaluable, especially all those intrepid English women travelers, like Mary Kingsley who understood what women were doing behind the scenes. When one male British official Robert Rattray, finally caught on that decisions had to through the queen mother, he asked why he had been there for years without noticing it. We thought anyone could see that, was the reply.

But even though women travelers caught on faster, they had varying depress of racism in their views. How do we handle this when we don't have contemporary African sources to balance Western views? (See Margaret Strobel's European Women and the Second British Empire 1991 and Patricia Romero's introduction to Women's Voices in Africa, 1992,) But students may also delight in some of the frankness of accounts, as when Nigerian women scoff at Olive Temple for stating that British men are supposed to have only one wife. Poor things, the Nigerian women of polygamous household thought, all that work and no wives to help. Our focus so often relies on the written word. But do we need to expand our visions?--look at the pot-lids of the Woyo as illustrating women's messages to their husbands at dinners? (See Frank Willett in African Art 1971 for the different designs depending on their feelings,) Or see the brilliance of African cloth or dress as more revealing about states of minds than visitor's interpretation of words?

Though there are challenges in teaching about African women, there aresome real delights. Chinese women's history==in my very biased view==gets bogged down with Confucianism early while the diversity of Africa allows for the blooming of all sorts of interpersonal relationships and roles for women. Many African societies were-andare-matrilinial so that brother-sister relationship is played out invarious ways, as among the Azande with the sister negotiating for her Brother's wedding and proposing to his bride. Included in Swazi wedding songs are the lines, Come and rescue me, my brother-showing family protection. One African saying: You can always get another husband, but your children will always have their uncle. Karen Sacks in her Sisters and Wives: The Past and Future of Sexual Equality, 1982, has made the point that women have a greater chance for equality when their brothers are part of their family power. The sharing of power with a mirror government, male and female, was sometimes led by the king and his elder sister or the king and his mother, or a woman chosen as a surrogate mother.

There are other African customs which suggest alternatives to Western patriarchy. Woman to woman marriage, in which an older woman marries a younger and takes responsibility for the welfare of children from her alliances with males, is not necessarily based on lesbian issues. Rather it is a way to share resources and provide security for a new family.The Amazons-the women warriors of Dahomey also represent female military abilities not generally recognized in the West until recently. African women farmers and traders illustrate a long history of women's economic enterprise, In a curriculum bound by constrictions of time, how do we get in all this diversity? Why is it important for our students to know there are role models not furnished by the West? Do we assign different groups with separate topics for research? Save our favorites for the whole class?

In teaching world history, I felt most comfortable in the area studies approach, focusing on one area-even if it huge as Africa--at a time. My plan was to have women represented in the cultural universals spread out in the units. (Cultural universals being economic, political, social, religious, aesthetic, educational topics.) But with the current pressure to use thematic history, teachers have to relate each theme to Women's history. Is one style easier for women's history? In a crowded curriculum, I have used the Confucian idea (okay, some things about Confucius I like) of one thing representing three things. Material shave to carry more weight than just being interesting in themselves and can be analyzed in several ways.

For the sake of discussion, here are some entry points for a thematic view of African women in a world history course.

1. Ancient Egyptian leaders: Hatsepsut: begin with individual so students can identify with real person, expedition to Punt to set up African trade, destruction of her image as problems in restoring women's history, Deir el-Bahri as great building.

2. Early kingdoms: 10th Century BCE--myth or no? Queen of Sheba/Ethiopian queen Makeda, mentioned in 1931 Constitution as founder, hero of national epic Kebre Negest. King Arthur comparison-conjunction of myth and history.

3. Arab intrusion into Africa: military resistance of Dahia al-Kahina of Mauritania; cultural resistance, Berber women non-veiling; cultural acceptance with modification, Hausa women using daughters as traders; keeping old religion, Zahr parties in Egypt. (Barbara Callaway, The Heritage of Islam: Women, Religion and Politics in West Africa.)

4. Exploration and Atlantic slavery: Portuguese exploration, darker side of Prince Henry, Queen Nzingha of Angola/Zaire tries to stop slave trade, sets up diplomatic ties, conflicts within Africa.

5. African slave trade: Dahomey raids, sorting of slaves for different purposes, women warriors, and rise to power of slave palace women, women slave traders. (Claire Robertson and Martin Klein, Women and Slavery in Africa,)

6. Revolutionary Era: Nova Scotians--free, Loyalist blacks to Canada,then Sierra Leone, shift to Creole traders, Maroons from Jamaica, later African Americans to Liberia. Links of American/ African history.(http://www.clioproject.org for lesson on Nova Scotians and trade)

7. Women's Rights Movement: South African Anti Pass demonstrations of 1913; wearing British suffragettes blue rosettes, Land Reform Act of 1913 giving most land to whites, mothers and grandmothers of later apartheid protestors.(Judith Wells, We Have Done with Reading: The Women's 1913 Anti-PassCampaign, 1991)

8. World Wide Depression, 1929: Nigerian Women's War, switch to cashcrops in Africa, sitting on the man custom, resistance to colonialism, misunderstanding of British officials of African women's methods of protest.

9. Post World War II Fight Against Colonialism: Kenya and women for/against Mau Mau tactics, South Africa, Black Sash, ANC-Sisulu, Moosa, Suzman,

10. Second Liberation-Decline in colonialism, rise of dictators, women's groups more significant politically, Rwanda 45% of legislatures female.

Would these topics work? Are some better choices than others? What's missing? Scholars in the last thirty years have done so much to widenour understanding of African women. But with all this diversity, good stories, cultural history, how will we share it with our students?

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Does anyone have book suggestions which include women on an equal basis?--------------------------------------Kathleen J. Wininger, Ph. D.Department of Philosophy University of Southern MainePortland, Maine 04104-9300



Kristin Lehner <klehner@GMU.EDU> wrote: Greetings! I am teaching African Art (mostly contemporary Art) for the first time and have not been very happy with the text selection. Most of the books I'm looking a marginalize African women Artists. I'm concerned that if I just ad supplementary material by women , it just confirms the marginalization.


From: Amal Khairy <amalk99@YAHOO.COM>

Date: November 6, 2005 2:34:25 AM EST


Subject: Re: Text for African Art

Dear Kristin,thanks for sharing your concerns. I will forward your e-mail to a number of lists so it may get the attention of some African artists. Best Regards Amal Kunna Khairy

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From: Susan Kullmann <susankullmann@EARTHLINK.NET>

Date: November 7, 2005 1:22:43 AM EST


Subject: Women in Africa websites

Can you recommend websites that are good online resources about African women's history?

As a research scholar at UCLA's Center for the Study of Women, I am developing a website that is dedicated to enabling women's history scholars to more easily use the web and new media in their research, teaching, and professional activities - http://feministgeek.com . I have been working on this site since 2004, and unveiled it at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women last June.

Currently, I am developing the Online Bibliography section of the website - a selective, up-to-date, and comprehensive annotated bibliography of reputable and durable online women's history primary and secondary sources. The online bibliography is split into three sections:

(1) General Resources (for example, George Mason's Women in World History site)

(2) Subscription Sites( for example Women and Social Movements in the US, from the Alexander Street Press)

(3) Regional Resources - by continent.

I believe that scholars in the field are the best judges of the quality and reliability of websites. So I seek input from scholars who study the history of Women in Africa to recommend valuable free and subscription websites in your area of expertise.

Many thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer!

--Susan Kullmann, Ph.D.Research Scholar, UCLA Center for the Study of Women2524 Hershey Hall, 801 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1504

E-mail: kullmann@ucla.eduhttp://www.feministgeek.com

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From: Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU>

Date: November 7, 2005 9:49:22 AM EST


Subject: Re: Women in Africa websites

I have recently (2005) published the first comprehensive reference work on African women. It includes nearly 700 entries on individuals, organizations, events, and topics that are relevant to African women. It also includes a 100-page bibliography organized by time period and by subject. The bibliography includes a list of webpages, many of them for organizations that are included in the dictionary entries. I don't know of one that would be a kind of one-stop resource on African history, but there is a lot of information about current issues that can be found via websites. I have included a selection of the more useful listings from the published bibliography:

Africa Action, has links to many sources on women and women's issues: www.africaaction.orgAfrica Women's Forum: http://www.africaleadership.org/AboutUs2.htm.Africabib.org, an on-line bibliographic resource on African women: http://www.africabib.org/women.htmlAfrican Gender Institute, University of Cape Town: web.uct.ac.za/org/agiAfrican Women in the Cinema: http://www.founders.howard.edu/beti_ellerson/.African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET): http://www.femnet.or.ke/.Anglophone and Lusophone African Women Writers: http://www.ex.ac.uk/~ajsimoes/aflit/index.html

Association of African Women Scholars: http://www.iupui.edu/~aaws/ Baobab for Women's Human Rights: http://www.baobabwomen.org/

Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians: http://www.thecirclecawt.org/

Commission pour l'Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles (CAMS): http://www.cams-fgm.org Federation of African Women Educationalists (FAWE): http://www.fawe.org/

Feminist Africa: www.feministafrica.orgFemmes Africa Solidarité: http://www.fasngo.org/

Francophone African Women Writers: http://www.arts.uwa.edu.au/AFLIT/FEMEChome.html

Gender and Women's Studies for Africa's Transformation Project: www.gwsafrica.org Green Belt Movement: http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/.

Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies: www.jendajournal.com

Niger Delta Women for Justice: www.ndwj.kabissa.org

Safere: Southern African Feminist Review: http://www.inasp.org.uk/ajol/journals/safere

Society for Women and AIDS in Africa: http://www.swaainternational.org/UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women): www.unifem.org

Viva, at the International Institute of Social History: http://www.iisg.nl/~womhist/vivahome.html (includes African history as special subsection of women's history bibliography).Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA): http://www.wlsa.co.zw/

--Dr David Zeitlyn,Reader in Social Anthropology,Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing,Department of Anthropology,Marlowe Building,University of Kent,Canterbury,CT2 7NR,UKTel. +44 (0)1227 823360 (Direct)Tel: +44 (0)1227 823942 (Office)Fax +44 (0)1227 827289http://lucy.kent.ac.uk/dz/Kaberry ' Women of the Grassfields'http://era.anthropology.ac.uk/Kaberry/

best wishesdavidz

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From: Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU>

Date: November 7, 2005 11:37:15 AM EST


Subject: Fwd: Re: Women in Africa websites

I neglected to give the title of my reference book on African women - it is the Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa, published by Scarecrow Press.

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On Nov 7, 2005, at 9:58 AM, Cora Presley wrote:

Hi Kathy,

Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA): http://www.wlsa.co.zw/I hope this list serve will be useful to us old hands a well as the novices. Will your book be at the ASA in the book section?

See you there,


Cora Ann Presley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of African-American Studies

Georgia State University

P. O. Box 4109

Atlanta, GA 30302-4109

Inter-office mail address: MSC 5A0913

Telephone: (404) 651-0772

FAX: (404) 651-4883

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Date: November 7, 2005 1:08:33 PM EST


Subject: Re: Women in Africa websites

FYI, the link below to Women and Law in Southern Africa doesn't work, but rather leads to something called MWEB Business Solutions. So does typing the posted address into the address line of one's browser.

Pamela McVay

Ursuline College

Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA): http://www.wlsa.co.zw/


From: Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU>

Date: November 7, 2005 4:24:45 PM EST


Subject: Re: Women in Africa websites

Sorry, the correct link should be http://www.wlsa.org.zm/.zw was a typo, unfortunately in the book as well. Oh well, on to the second edition with corrections.Kathleen Sheldon

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From: Kate Wininger <wininger@USM.MAINE.EDU>

Date: November 7, 2005 10:10:56 PM EST


Subject: Re: Women in Africa websites


Were you looking for this?KATE

Women and Law in Southern Africa


Kathleen J. Wininger, Ph. D.

Department of Philosophy

University of Southern Maine

Portland, Maine04104-9300




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thanks also for reminding me of UCLA grounds which I left in July1986!!


Ackson M.Kanduza,Department of History,University of Swaziland,P/B 4,KWALUSENI.SWAZILAND.

Phone: (+268)-5185108 (Work).(+268)-5055625 (Home).Ackson.


From: Kristin Lehner <klehner@GMU.EDU>

Date: November 12, 2005 1:57:29 PM EST


Subject: Re: Women in Africa Websites

Hello all:

In response to Susan's initial inquiry, I wanted to point out the places on our Women in World History (WWH) website (and the companion World History Sources (WHS) site at http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources) that have resources on women in Africa.

In WWH, please see a piece on the 1929 Women's War in southeastern Nigeria, narrated by Meredith McKittrick of Georgetown University:http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/analyzing/records/recordsintro.html In WHS, a piece on BaAka music and dance by Michelle Kisliuk of the University of Virginia:


There are two Curriculum Modules that might be of interest:Imperialism in North Africa, authored by Julia Clancy-Smith of the University of Arizona, at:

http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/lessons/lesson9/lesson9.php?s=0Cultural Contact in Southern Africa, authored by Anne Good of the University of Minnesota, at:


Two shorter Teaching Case Studies:Nana Asma'u, Muslim Woman Scholar, authored by Beverly Mack of the University of Kansas at:http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/d/7/wwh.htmlThe Calling of Katie Makanya, authored by Jeremy Popkin of the University of Kentucky at:


Also, one website:Women's Travel Writing (http://etrc.lib.umn.edu/womtrav.htm). See a review of this site by Nora Jaffary of Concordia University at:http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/d/56/whm.html

There are also a number of good websites with primary sources for African history reviewed in WHS. Most of them, however, do not have an explicit focus on women and gender.

I hope this is useful, and I'd love to have comments about any and all of these resources.

Kristin Lehner

--Kristin Lehner Women in World History Project AssociateCenter for History and New MediaGeorge Mason University4400 University Dr. MSN 3G1Fairfax, Virginia 22030United StatesPhone: (703)993-4528Email: klehner@gmu.edu

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From: L. Kabasomi Kakoma

Subject: African Women & Sexual Abuse

I am trying to find African Women's narratives (fictional or real) onsexual abuse. The closest I have so far is Buchi Emecheta's Gwendolen.Any help in finding other texts or sources is most welcome. Thank you.

L. Kabasomi Kakoma Master's Candidate 2006 Department of Performance Studies Tisch School of the Arts New York University I am trying to find African Women's narratives (fictional or real) onsexual abuse. The closest I have so far is Buchi Emecheta's Gwendolen.Any help in finding other texts or sources is most welcome. Thank you.

L. Kabasomi KakomaMaster's Candidate 2006Department of Performance StudiesTisch School of the ArtsNew York University


From: Marissa Moorman

Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

I have noticed that students come to class with an image of oppressed African women based on the image of the oppressed US housewife (and never mind that this doesn't even fit for the majority of women in the US!). In a sense, they collapse the beast of burden image with US iconography of the stymied housewife. And it seems to persist despite my attempts (apparently unsuccessful!) to show them images and talk about women engaged in politics, market trades, and popular cultural practices.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to work through this?

Best wishes, Marissa Moorman

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From: Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU>

Date: November 13, 2005 4:37:57 PM EST


Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

Here are a few items that might be relevant; there is also quite a large literature specifically focused on rape and legal issues related to rape. Hope this helps, Kathleen Sheldon

Coker-Appiah, Dorcas, and Kathy Cusack, editors. Violence Against Women and Children in Ghana. Accra: Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, 1999.

Hendricks, Cheryl. Rumours of Rape: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment at the University of the Western Cape. Southern Africa Political and Economic Monthly 5, no. 6 (March 1992).

Omale, Juliana. Tested to Their Limit: Sexual Harassment in Schools and Educational Institutions in Kenya. In No Paradise Yet: The World's Women Face the New Century, edited by Judith Mirsky and Marty Radlett, 19-38. London: PANOS/Zed, 2000.

Russell, Diana E. H. Behind Closed Doors in White South Africa: Incest Survivors Tell Their Stories. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

Tanzania Media Women's Association. How Common is Sexual Harassment in Tanzania? In Woman and Violence: Realities and Responses Worldwide, edited by Miranda Davies, 76-84. London: Zed, 1994.

Meredeth Turshen, The Political Economy of Rape: An Analysis of Systematic Rape and Sexual Abuse of Women During Armed Conflict in Africa, in Victims, Perpetrators or Actors? Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence, ed. Caroline O.N. Moser and Fiona C. Clark (London: Zed, 2001), 55-68.

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Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:13:35 -0500

From: Moorman, Marissa J <moorman@INDIANA.EDU>

Subject: Re: Women in Africa Websites


I wanted to, in a small way, take up one of the sets ofissues that Jean Allman introduced in her opening thoughts -that of cultural baggage.

I have noticed that students come to class with an image of oppressed African women based on the image of the oppressed US housewife (and never mind that this doesn't even fit forthe majority of women in the US!). In a sense, theycollapse the beast of burden image with US iconography ofthe stymied housewife. And it seems to persist despite my attempts (apparently unsuccessful!) to show them images andtalk about women engaged in politics, market trades, andpopular cultural practices.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to work throughthis?

Best wishes,

Marissa Moorman Jean Allman,DirectorCenter for African Studies210 International Studies BuildingUniversity of IllinoisChampaign, IL 61820phone: 217-333-6335---- Original message ----

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From: WOMEN IN AFRICA on behalf of Jean Allman

Sent: Mon 11/14/2005 10:52 AMTo: WOMENINAFRICA-L@mail04.GMU.EDU

Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

Thanks for these, Kathy. I'm wondering if there are sourcesthat take a more historical angle on this question? Partly,I'm interested because the Journal of Women's History isdoing a special issue on domestic violence and, so far,there's not been a single submission that focuses on Africa.


Jean Benson, Koni, and Joyce Chadya. Ukubhinya: Gender and Sexual Violence inBulawayo, Colonial Zimbabwe, 1946-1956, Journal of Southern AfricanStudies 31, 3 (September 2005): 587-610.

Scully, Pamela. Rape, Race, and Colonial Culture: The Sexual Politics ofIdentity in the Nineteenth-Century Cape Colony, South Africa. AmericanHistorical Review 100, no. 2 (April 1995): 335-59.

and a couple of sources that might give some leads to literature (for theoriginal query):Lucy Valerie Graham, A Hidden Side to the Story: Reading Rape in RecentSouth African Literature, Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Studies 24,1&2 (2002).December Green, Gender Violence in Africa: African Women's Responses (NewYork: St. Martin's Press, 1999).

And here are a few more sources on domestic violence specifically, thoughstill very little historically (there are a couple of recent dissertationslisted here, those scholars might have something for JWH):

Abane, Henrietta. Towards Research Into Wife Battering in Ghana: SomeMethodological Issues. In Men, Women, and Violence: A Collection of Papersfrom Codesria Gender Institute 1997, edited by Felicia Oyekanmi. Dakar:Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2000.

Armstrong, Alice K. Culture and Choice: Lessons from Survivors of GenderViolence in Zimbabwe. Harare: Violence Against Women Zimbabwe, 1998.

Atinmo, Morayo. Sociocultural Implications of Wife Beating Among theYoruba in Ibadan City, Nigeria. In Men, Women, and Violence: A Collectionof Papers from Codesria Gender Institute 1997, edited by Felicia Oyekanmi.Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2000.

Bammeke, Funmi. Gender Differentials in Students' Perception andParticipation in Violence: A Case Study of the University of Lagos. InMen, Women, and Violence: A Collection of Papers from Codesria GenderInstitute 1997, edited by Felicia Oyekanmi. Dakar: Council for theDevelopment of Social Science Research in Africa, 2000.

Erchak, Gerald M. Cultural Anthropology and Spouse Abuse. CurrentAnthropology 25, 3 (1984): 331-32.

Hindin, Michele J. Understanding Women's Attitudes Towards Wife Beating inZimbabwe. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 81 (2003): 501-08.

Machera, Mumbi. Domestic Violence in Kenya: A Survey of NewspaperReports. In Men, Women, and Violence: A Collection of Papers from CodesriaGender Institute 1997, edited by Felicia Oyekanmi. Dakar: Council for theDevelopment of Social Science Research in Africa, 2000.

Maman, Suzanne et al. HIV-Positive Women Report More Lifetime PartnerViolence: Findings from a Voluntary Counseling and Testing Clinic in Dar esSalaam, Tanzania. American Journal of Public Health 92, 8 (August 2002):1331-37.

Meintjes, Sheila. The Politics of Engagement: Women Transforming thePolicy Process - Domestic Violence Legislation in South Africa. In NoShortcuts to Power: African Women in Politics and Policy Making, edited byAnne Marie Goetz and Shireen Hassim, 140-59. London: Zed Books, 2003.

Muli, Elizabeth Wanjama. Kiamis: Rethinking Access to Justice in DomesticViolence Cases in Kenya. Ph. D. diss., Stanford University, 2004.

Munalula, Mulela Margaret. Shelter and Gendered Power Relations: A Studyof Spousal Homicide in Zambia. In Changing Gender Relations in SouthernAfrica: Issues of Urban Life, edited by Anita Larsson, Matseliso Mapetla,and Ann Schlyter, 244-65. Roma: National University of Lesotho, 1998.

Mushanga, Tibamanya mwene. Wife Victimization in East and Central Africa.In International Perspectives on Family Violence, edited by Richard J.Gelles and Claire Pedrick Cornell, 139-45. Lexington Books, 1983.

Mwau, Angellina. Counseling Victims of Domestic Violence in Kenya. InAfrican Women's Health, edited by Meredeth Turshen, 107-24. Trenton, N.J.:Africa World Press, 2000.

Ofei-Aboagye, Rosemay Ofeibea. Altering the Strands of the Fabric: APreliminary Look at Domestic Violence in Ghana. Signs 19, 4 (Summer 1994):924-38.

Rude, Darlene. Reasonable Men and Provocative Women: An Analysis ofGendered Domestic Homicide in Zambia. Journal of Southern African Studies25, 1 (March 1999): 7-27.

Vasques, Lockwood, Linda. Domestic Violence in Portuguese, Cape Verdean,and Brazilian Families: A Clinical Sociological and Qualitative Study. Ph.D. diss., Northeastern University, 2001.

Velasco, Palmira. The Fight Against Sexual Violence in Mozambique. InWomen Challenging Society: Stories of Women's Empowerment in SouthernAfrica, edited by Madeleine Maurick and Bram Posthumus. Amsterdam:Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa, 1999.

[unknown]. Acting Against Domestic Violence. In Justice Gained? Crime andCrime Control in South Africa's Transition, edited by Bill Dixon, WilfriedScharf, and Elrena van der Spuy. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press,2004.

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From: Kate Wininger <wininger@USM.MAINE.EDU>

Date: November 14, 2005 6:50:44 PM EST


Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

Hello,If you want a Buchi Emecheta story set in Africa, DOUBLE YOKE has the example of unwanted sexual attention from a Professor,


Kathleen J. Wininger, Ph. D.




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From:lesley agams


Sent: Friday, November 25, 2005 5:50 PM

Subject: Re:African Women & Sexual Abuse

Hi,I live and work in Nigeria, my focus is domestic violence. I read about the Journal of Women's History not having any submissions from Africa. What are they looking for and how can I get in touch with them. Lesley Gene AgamsWomen's Crisis Center, Owerri

I have several essays I wrote w/in past year on gender roles in African families (pre-colonial (US) and w/in reconstruction), African women and tribal communities; women and early Atlantic slave trade..and some other things. I'd be glad to e-mail to you. Not sure how helpful they may be, but who knows? At my advancing age my next question seems a little silly, but is certainly plausible....have your students seen Roots, or The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Did they see Beloved , read The Making of Mammy Pleasant: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco by Lynn Hudson at Cal Poly? Obviously some of these resources start in Africa and move out of the area, but they have bits and pieces of use. One other book I'll mention, only because you are at Indiana._Homeless.Friendless, and Penniless: The WPA Interviews with former slaves living in Indiana_ by Ronald J. Baker. Oh...did you X-Post to H-Africa. Their subscribers have been great to work with.

OK...here's some websites I've used but can't guarantee each one is still up and running.

Africabib..Biblio data on African Women and Af.Women lit.www.africabib.org/

African Women's Database and Resource Directorywww.sul.standford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/women.html

All Africa -Women and Gender www.allafrica/women/

African Women's Media Center www.awmc.com/

African Women as Heroine: Great Black Women in History www.cwo.com/~lucmil/women.html

African Studies Center www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/About_African/ww_women.html

Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women's Studies www.jendajournal.com

APC-Africa-Women www.apcafricawomen.org

There may be African films (documentaries?)at the following sitewww.globetrotter.berkeley.edu/GlobalGender/africafilm.html

Hope I have the URLS correct. Have problems w/them..pls. don't hesitate tosend me a note.

At one time I owned a decent size collection of 'black memorabilia' ...hate that term. I gathered it while my sons were very little and used it every chance I had to teach them how hurtful, degrading, humiliating these items were, and how they were used as much to incite fear and ignorance in European and North Americans as for any other purpose. **Sometimes** when students see and can touch and handle items they can have more immediate reaction.. And I always put it in the context that these were the types of things their great-grandparents, grandparents and parents, et al by which they were informed. **And** if you have pieces which were made in Germany and/or Japan those can create discussion on scope of hatred and ignorance.

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From: Jean Allman <jallman@uiuc.edu>

Date: November 26, 2005 1:04:50 PM EST


Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

Reply-To: Jean Allman <jallman@uiuc.edu>

Hi, Lesley:Please note that any submissions have to be set in an historical framework. Submission guidelines can be found at:

http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_womens_history/guidelines.html Please let me know if you have any questions.Jean Allman

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Marjorie Bingham


I wonder if part of the problem in teaching African women's history is that we focus so much on current issues and neglect the power that history can give in creating new models of action. It seems to me that African women's history missed what I call the hunter-gatherer stage of women's history. So many amateur women historians--like Lydia Childin America with her history of women of the world--resurrected notablewomen of the past for us. But by the time the field of African women'shistory was established, notable women seemed an old-fashioned ideaand we went instead into analytical and theoretical history.

But for young people the notable remain models--and particularly mightbe for those young girls in Malawi who are now surrounded bypatriarchy. So, here's my question--who would be the historical rolemodels you would like to see taught to young women?

Marjorie Bingham


From: kim miller ;kamiller@TRANSY.EDU

Date: Monday, November 28, 2005 1:43 pm

Subject: Re: African Women & Sexual Abuse

Are you looking for narratives in text, or will you consider visual narratives? I have recently published three articles about the PhilaniProject, a women's artmaking cooperative in South Africa,where the artists create visual narratives on cloth that tell their experiences with physicalviolence. Here, the use of visual culture allows for a measure of truth-telling that the artists may not have undertaken in other forms of expression (such as writing). If this sounds useful to you, please feel free to contact me off-list and I will send you the references.

Kim Miller

Assistant Professor, Art History & Women's Studies

Director, Women's Studies Program

Transylvania University

300 N Broadway

Lexington, KY 40508


Ayesha Imam

Jennifer Weir

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On 28/11/05 11:31 PM, Margorie Binham <binha001@UMN.EDU> wrote:

Recent articles in the New York Times and elsewhere--Yesterday on HBO tonight--have focused on the problems of African women: AIDS, Drought, Selling of young daughters to old men, Corruption, Little schooling Making Africa, according Helen Cooper's editorial, the worst place on earth to be a woman.

I wonder if part of the problem in teaching African women's history is that we focus so much on current issues and neglect the power that history can give in creating new models of action. It seems to me that African women's history missed what I call the hunter-gatherer stage of women's history. So many amateur women historians--like Lydia Childan America with her history of women of the world--resurrected notable women of the past for us. But by the time the field of African women's history was established, notable women seemed an old-fashioned idea and we went instead into analytical and theoretical history.

But for young people the notable remain models--and particularly might be for those young girls in Malawi who are now surrounded by patriarchy. So, here's my question--who would be the historical rolemodels you would like to see taught to young women?

Marjorie Bingham Jennifer Weir

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From: Amal Khairy <amalk99@YAHOO.COM>

Date: November 29, 2005 7:18:01 AM EST


Subject: Re: African Women Role Models

From Amal Kunna Khairy:

Indeed in Africa there are women who played significant roles in the history of their countries that never been in other countries. Last October I was in a visit to South Africa when I visited SWETO, Mandela's home which became a museum telling his story. My attention was driven to the huge presence of Winy Mandela on all the photos that reflect the stages of the South African struggle for decades.

In Sudan a women mass movement coincided with the struggle for independents from the British rule. Remarkable women such as Dr. Khalda Zahir the first medical Dr. graduated in 19950s, Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim the first Parliament elected female member in 1964 and others have unique stories tell about their struggle for women suffrage, rights etc, being subject to detentions, lay off for political reasons etc. These women succeeded in winning the UN Award twice in 1975, and again for human rights in 1999. Fatima was the chair lady of the Women International Democratic Federation during the last years of the last century and was the chairlady of the Arab Women Unions during the Nairobi Forward looking strategies 1985.

In history there is many queens such as the Nubian queen Kindaka. I do not feel sad but angry when I see that all the media discourse about Africa is limited to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment, While many bright pictures exist in the African reality and history.


Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU> wrote:From Kathleen Sheldon:

While there are some good, and interesting, role models in African history, I think the problem is the tendency of the western media to focus on African problems. To counter that problem, why not discuss Wangari Maathaias an example of an environmental and political activist, Gertrude Mongellaas a regional and international political leader (she chaired the women's meeting in Beijing in 1995 and is currently president of the African Union parliament), Graca Machel for her work on child soldiers, Ayesha Imam for her work opposing the imposition of shari'a law in Nigeria - there are many other possible examples. And how many western news sources carried information about the ground-breaking Protocol on the Rights of Women that was passed by the African Union in July 2003, and is a template for African governments to follow in their own legislative agendas? That protocol was the result of many women's organizations from across the continent working together.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.

Do justly, now.

Love mercy, now.

Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

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On 30/11/05 1:47 AM, Kathleen Sheldon <ksheldon@UCLA.EDU> wrote:

From: Kathleen Sheldon

If I may toot my own horn again - I have published this year the first comprehensive reference work on African women - a Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa (Scarecrow Press,www.scarecrowpress.com/ISBN/0810853310). Of the nearly 700 entries over one-third are on individual women - that is, over 250 women in history and currently active have individual entries. The women include many politicians and activists, as well as artists, writers, athletes, religious leaders, and others; the earliest one is Maqeda (Queen of Sheba) from the 10th century BC, and I was able to include Wangari Maathai's Nobel Prize just before the volume went to the press, so it is as up-to-date as possible. Many of the entries direct the reader to source material, and there is also a 100-page bibliography that includes a 7-page section on biography and autobiography alone that includes at least 100 entries. I hope users would find that to be a gold mine of sources and ideas for course materials. I believe all of the women mentioned on this list have entries in the dictionary, with the exception of Mnkabayi, who does not have her own entry, but is mentioned in the entry on her friend, Nandi(Nandi was Shaka's mother; Mnkabayi was Shaka's paternal aunt).While I was writing the dictionary, my goal was to make it a resource thatwould help people with exactly these kinds of queries. Best wishes, Kathleen

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From: Wendy Belcher <wbelcher@UCLA.EDU>

Date: November 29, 2005 1:06:39 PM EST


Subject: Re: African Women Role Models

If the point is to get students to see things in a new way, it's best to start at home. Most students (and faculty) think of the United States as the leader in feminist values. Yet, a number of hard indicators demonstrate that many other places, including places in Africa, do far better. For instance, the United States, with a population of almost 300 million, does not lead in the number (not percentage, the number) of women in political leadership. We rank around 54th among nations. Liberia just elected its first woman president; the United States has not. Ghana had a woman on its Supreme Court long before the US did. Pointing out such facts helps. For another instance, to range farther afield, the number of women getting technical, engineering, and mathematical degrees in Iran is about equal with the number of men. The school segregation of men and women since infancy, plus the regime's dedication to having a school in every hamlet, has paid off. There is no enormous gap between men and women in the sciences (such as the Harvard president targeted here at home). Once students see that they and their nation are not what they seem, they may be more open to seeing that other places are not what the media makes them seem either. Certainly, no one who has ever lived in southern Ghana would ever make the mistake of thinking that Africa as a whole is a place that is backward about women. As a friend's research shows, the most common reason girls leave school in southern Ghana is because they (not the sons) are needed to work as business women in their mothers' own extremely profitable businesses. Not everything is what it appears to be.

Wendy Belcher



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I want to extend my thanks to everyone who participated --those who raised such sharp queries and those who generously provided answers, references, and citations. An impressive set of resources has crossed all of our desks and for that I am truly grateful. I especially appreciate the last round of discussions about the baggage students bring to class and how that is best countered. Certainly, the great women approach to Africa's past is one way to address these stereotypes, especially in the high school and undergraduate classroom, and it is probably also true that there are fewer resources of this type for Africa than there are for other world areas, for a variety of reasons. But countering the baggage,especially in the current political and racial climate in this country, will remain a serious challege.

As a reminder, the next forum is on Women in Latin America, Moderated by Donna Guy and Marilynn Jo Hitchens, it will run in February, 2006.

Again, many thanks for all of your wonderful ideas and best wishes for a peace-filled new year.Jean Allman Jean Allman, DirectorCenter for African Studies210 International Studies Building University of IllinoisChampaign, IL 61820phone: 217-333-6335

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Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 11:22:37 -0500

From: mt-b <71431.1612@COMPUSERVE.COM>

Subject: African women at grassroots, demographic/culturallevel?



Thanks for the wonderful exchanges and explorations that emerged from our Women in Africa forum. I think that the great women materials could be especially successful in teaching the undergraduate World History surveys.

The great women are by definition, though, the exceptions. For those of us absorbed with documenting and comparing women's trends and realities atthe grass roots' level, we would welcome a clearer sense of direction.

Maureen Tighe-Brown, doctoral candidate in history,University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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-----Original Message-----From: WOMEN IN AFRICA [mailto:WOMENINAFRICA-L@mail04.GMU.EDU] On BehalfOf Jean AllmanSent: Friday, December 02, 2005 9:54 AMTo: WOMENINAFRICA-L@mail04.GMU.EDU Subject: Re: African women at grassroots, demographic/cultural level?

Hi, Maureen:I'm not sure that I can provide a clearer sense of direction, but would welcome others sharing their strategies and approaches. While I can see the import/impact of utilizing great AFrican women in history to overturn the kind of victimology that is so rampant, especially in the US media, I actually have avoided that approach. My own strategy in the classroom is tochallenge/undermine/problematize the notion of great men, great women, AND great civilizations. So, in an undergraduate course I am far more likely to focus on the Ibo women's war than Yaa Asantewa, for example. Jean

Jean Allman,DirectorCenter for African Studies210 International Studies BuildingUniversity of IllinoisChampaign, IL 61820phone: 217-333-6335Thank you for all of the useful information.