Peasants, Traders, & Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939

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Dr. Schmidt argues that women were central to the formation of African peasantries in Rhodesia. Yet women's status declined over the course of the colonial period. As political mechanisms threatened the survival of peasant households, women's labor was intensified in the last ditch attempt to stave off the need for male labor migration.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“. . . women's voices are beginning at last to be heard more loudly and clearly.”–African Affairs

“Schmidt's book is very solidly researched, fruitfully linked to a particular district, and clearly presented....Her book is admirably suited to be the first published...among a number of inquiries into the history of African women in Zimbabwe....It will be very useful both inside and outside a bench-mark for the historical discussion of gender.”–Terence Ranger St. Anthony's College Oxford University

“This excellent study....contributes to the debate over patriarchy, providing an interesting example of patriarchal transformation during the colonial period. This has important comparative implications for feminist theory, particularly the debate over the universality or specificity of patriarchy...[The book's] factual data is rich, complex, and interesting.”–Jane Parpart Dalhousie University

“Ms. Schmidt's study is a pioneering work which may shape much of the future research on women and rural change in colonial Southern Africa....This is a carefully researched, well-written [book] on a very important subject. It addresses the complex interrelationship between race, gender and ideology in a colonial setting. It is a complex story which Ms. Schmidt weaves together well....It [is] a significant contribution to the historiography of Southern Africa.”–Allen Isaacman University of Minnesota

“[Schmidt has] fascinating information and [has] marshalled it in a comprehensive fashion....The work...[is] exemplary in its breadth.”–Jane I. Guyer Boston University

“[A] wonderful book....[Schmidt has] a lot of very important things to say, and [she says] them well. [Her] writing style is clear; the reader does not have to labor to get through.”–Steven Feierman University of Florida, Gainesville

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780435080662
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 7/20/1992
  • Series: Social History of Africa Series
  • Pages: 303
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Schmidt is Professor of History at Loyola College in Maryland. She is the author of Decoding Corporate Camouflage: U.S. Business Support for Apartheid (Institute for Policy Studies, 1980) and Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939 (Heinemann, 1992).
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Table of Contents


Beholden to Two Patriarchies

Shona Women and Work: The Backbone of Rural Production

African Producers and Settler Law

Gender Ideology, Economics, and the Social Control of African Women

Missionary Education for Women and Girls

African Women and European Domestic Service





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