The Dance of Politics: Gender, Performance, and Democratization in Malawi

The Dance of Politics: Gender, Performance, and Democratization in Malawi

by Lisa Gilman
     
 

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Election campaigns, political events, and national celebration days in Malawi usually feature groups of women who dance and perform songs of praise for politicians and political parties. These lively performances help to attract and energize throngs of prospective voters. However, as Lisa Gilman explains, “praise performing” is one of the only ways that

Overview

Election campaigns, political events, and national celebration days in Malawi usually feature groups of women who dance and perform songs of praise for politicians and political parties. These lively performances help to attract and energize throngs of prospective voters. However, as Lisa Gilman explains, “praise performing” is one of the only ways that women are allowed to participate in a male-dominated political system.

Although political performances by women are not unique to Malawi, the case in Malawi is complicated by the fact that until 1994 all Malawianwomen were required to perform on behalf of the long-reigning political party and its self-declared “President for Life,” Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda+. This is the first book to examine the present-day situation, where issues of gender, economics and politics collide in surprising ways. Along with its solid grounding in the relevant literature, The Dance of Politics draws strength from Gilman’s first-hand observations and her interviews with a range of participants in the political process, from dancers to politicians.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this carefully documented book, Lisa Gilman demonstrates how the embodied experiences of women’s political dancing have served to both reinscribe and challenge women’s subordinate status in Malawi. Through a nuanced analysis of the transformations of women's praise performing, Gilman provides an interdisciplinary ethnography that serves as an excellent model of intersectional research. She examines how power and agency operate on, with, and through women’s performative bodies and minds at the intersections of gender, politics, and economics. A must read for anyone interested in women, gender, and power in Africa."
—Jennifer Leigh Disney, Associate Professor of Political Science at Winthrop University and author of Women’s Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua (Temple)

“Gilman’s insightful book…. is very solidly rooted in first-hand observation, a piece of detailed reportage where events and discussions are related with the authority of extensive empirical witness over more than a decade. Direct quotation from interviews is extensive and the narrative is firmly grounded in the grassroots. At times it has a diary-like aspect….The reader is placed alongside the author, close to the raw data…. [A] worthy addition.”
—Africa

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592139873
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
04/10/2009
Series:
African Soundscapes
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
268
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Lisa Gilman is Assistant Professor in the English Department and Folklore Program at the University of Oregon.

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