Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Change on the Upper Slave Coast: A History of the Anlo-Ewe

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Sandra Greene argues convincingly that gender and ethnicity in precolonial Africa can only be understood together. Her book focuses on the history of the Anlo-Ewe of southeastern Ghana over three centuries and demonstrates that the very factors that affected social constructions of gender also had profound implications for the construction of ethnic identities. Greene documents the changes that occurred in ethnic boundaries as the community absorbed refugees, traders, and conquerors and later began to redefine the boundaries between insiders and outsiders. She then analyzes the way shifting ethnic definitions and competition for scarce resources affected gender relations. Clan elders increasingly sacrificed the interests of the young women under their authority in marital arrangements because of an increasing preference for clan endogamy. Greene explores the way some of these women were able to reassert their voices through membership in influential "outsider" religious orders. These new alignments formed a base of support from which Anlo women and a number of ethnic outsiders successfully challenged their own marginalization. Thus by the end of the nineteenth century, the boundary that separated insiders and outsiders in Anlo society and the ways in which men and women interacted had changed significantly. Greene eschews simplistic analyses of oppression and agency. All in Anlo society are given a voice and allowed to speak from their own perspective, establishing a new and exciting standard for analyzing the history of social relations in precolonial Africa.
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Editorial Reviews

Greene (African history, Cornell U.) focuses on the history of the Anlo-Ewe of southeastern Ghana over three centuries, arguing that the same factors that affected social constructions of gender also had profound implications for the construction of ethnic identities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780435089795
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Series: Social History of Africa Series
  • Pages: 209
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Greene is associate professor of African history at Cornell University. She has published numerous articles on the political and cultural history of the Anlo-Ewe of Ghana. She is currently conducting research on the changes that have occurred in the social, political, and religious meaning associated with specific sites in the Anlo area.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Figures
List of Photographs
Introduction 1
1 Transformations 20
2 Gendered Responses: Ethnic Outsiders in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Anlo 48
3 Ethnicized Responses: Women in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Anlo 79
4 The Road Not Taken 108
5 Ethnicity in Colonial Anlo: The Gender Connection 136
6 Gender in Colonial and Post-Colonial Anlo: The Ethnic Connection 156
Conclusion 181
Sources 185
Index 200
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