Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change

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Overview

The Yoruba, one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria, are noted for the economic activity, confidence, and authority of their women. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change traces the history of women in Yorubaland from around 1820 to 1960 and Nigerian independence. Integrating fresh material from local court records and four decades of existing scholarship, Marjorie Keniston McIntosh shows how and why women's roles and status changed during the nineteenth century and the colonial era. McIntosh emphasizes connections between their duties within the household, their income-generating work, and their responsibilities in religious, cultural, social, and political contexts. She highlights the forms of patriarchy found within Yorubaland and explores the impact of Christianity, colonialism, and international capitalism. This keen and insightful work offers a unique view of Yoruba women's initiative, adaptability, and skill at working in groups.
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Editorial Reviews

Feminist Africa

"This book is recommended for courses in African women’s history, African history, and Gender and Women’s Studies courses. It is well-researched and documented and it covers a span of history that is invaluable to the broader understanding of Nigeria in general and the Yoruba in particular before,
during, and after colonial rule. The book is well-written and organised and would interest readers who are new to African studies or African women’s history." —Feminist Africa

Choice

"Clearly written and cogently argued, this book is the first comprehensive survey of Yoruba women's lives from the precolonial period until independence.... A major contribution to Nigerian and African women's history, this book should be included in all college and university libraries.... Highly recommended." —Choice, September 2009

Missiology: International Review
"[This] book provides highly interesting insights into Yoruba history and culture, including the effects of slave trade and colonialism, the arrival of Islam and Christianity, changes through the introduction of British legal system, and Western schooling.... a good read for anybody interested in African culture, history, or women's roles." —MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review, #41 April 2009
Itinerario
"Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change provides an excellent overview of Yoruba history and culture as well as illuminating descriptions of the activities of Yoruba women... it is an essential place to start for anyone interested in the history and culture of Yoruba women in south-western Nigeria. Its descriptive nature, chronological organisation, and flowing prose make this work highly accessible...." —Ann Genova, Roanoke College, Itinerario, Vol. 34.1 March 2010

— Ann Genova, Roanoke College

American Historical Review

"[T]his comprehensively researched and compellingly rendered study is sure to be valued by Africanists and will prove of considerable interest to non-Africanists concerned with its themes." —American Historical Review, June 2010

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

"McIntosh's approach makes her book a valuable addition to introductory and survey courses of Africa." —Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume 73/3, 2010

Journal of African History

"Yoruba Women is valuable as a reflection of the state of knowledge on the Yoruba and as the benchmark from which the future of Yoruba studies can proceed. It will be well referred to for a long time." —Journal of African History

Judith Byfield

"Based on a careful reading of the existing scholarship on Yoruba women, this will be an important text for scholars in Yoruba studies, African studies, and especially women's and gender studies." —Judith Byfield, Cornell University

Philomena Okek-Ihejirika

"An important contribution to knowledge about women and the relations of gender in Yorubaland and other African societies." —Philomena Okek-Ihejirika, University of Alberta, Edmonton

H-Women, H-Net - Cyrelene Amoah

"... well researched and based on a vast array of sources, such as missionary accounts, records of native courts, British colonial office documents, newspapers, diaries, letters, and financial accounts of Yoruba women as well as oral histories and interviews. The work is nicely written, clearly discussing the author's themes of gender and patriarchy, women and colonialism, and female agency in Yorubaland. It is a welcome addition to texts on gender history in Africa as well as West African history." —Cyrelene Amoah, Southern Illinois University, H-Women, H-Net, April 2009

E. S. Schmidt

Clearly written and cogently argued, this book is the first comprehensive survey of Yoruba women's lives from the precolonial period until independence. The period 1820-1960 was one of fundamental political, economic, and social change, during which the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria selectively adopted foreign ideas, customs, and technologies and adapted them to their own needs. Focusing on marriage, motherhood, economic and political activities, and religious roles, McIntosh (emer., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) shows how Yoruba women resisted detrimental practices and took advantage of new openings in economic, educational, and legal realms. Her study is nuanced and textured, making distinctions between women of different regions and socioeconomic backgrounds, and between those practicing Islam, Christianity, and indigenous religions. Women's agency is a major focal point. McIntosh's wide-ranging sources include the writings of 19th-century travelers, missionaries, and Western-educated Yoruba elites, oral histories and interviews, local newspapers, photographs, and native court records. The latter are particularly revealing in terms of women's voices and perspectives. A major contribution to Nigerian and African women's history, this book should be included in all college and university libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --ChoiceE. S. Schmidt, Loyola University Maryland, September 2009

MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review

"[This] book provides highly interesting insights into Yoruba history and culture, including the effects of slave trade and colonialism, the arrival of Islam and Christianity, changes through the introduction of British legal system, and Western schooling.... a good read for anybody interested in African culture, history, or women's roles." —MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review, #41 April 2009

Itinerario - Ann Genova

"Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change provides an excellent overview of Yoruba history
and culture as well as illuminating descriptions of the activities of Yoruba women... it is an essential place to start for anyone interested in the history and culture of Yoruba women in south-western Nigeria. Its descriptive nature, chronological organisation, and flowing prose make this work highly accessible...." —Ann Genova, Roanoke College, Itinerario, Vol. 34.1 March 2010

From the Publisher
"[T]his comprehensively researched and compellingly rendered study is sure to be valued by Africanists and will prove of considerable interest to non-Africanists concerned with its themes." —American Historical Review, June 2010

"... well researched and based on a vast array of sources, such as missionary accounts, records of native courts, British colonial office documents, newspapers, diaries, letters,
and financial accounts of Yoruba women as well as oral histories and interviews. The work is nicely written, clearly discussing the author's themes of gender and patriarchy, women and colonialism, and female agency in Yorubaland. It is a welcome addition to texts on gender history in Africa as well as West African history." —Cyrelene Amoah, Southern Illinois University, H-Women,
H-Net, April 2009

Choice

"Clearly written and cogently argued, this book is the first comprehensive survey of Yoruba women's lives from the precolonial period until independence.... A major contribution to Nigerian and African women's history, this book should be included in all college and university libraries.... Highly recommended." —Choice, September 2009

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253220547
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 3/18/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Marjorie Keniston McIntosh is Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at the
University of Colorado, Boulder. Her work on Africa includes Women, Work, and Domestic Virtue in
Uganda, 1900–2003, written with Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo, which received the 2007
Aidoo-Snyder Prize awarded by the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association. She is also author of Working Women in English Society, 1300–1620 and Controlling Misbehavior in
England,1370–1600.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vii

Note on Language and Orthography xi

Abbreviations, Terms, and Explanations xiii

Part 1 Introduction

1 Opening 3

2 Sources and Questions 13

Part 2 The Context of Women's Lives

3 Yorubaland, 1820-1893 29

4 Colonial Yorubaland, 1893-1960 57

5 Family and Marriage 79

Part 3 Women's Economic Activities

6 Labor, Property, and Agriculture 109

7 Income-Generating Activities in the Nineteenth Century 126

8 New Approaches to Familiar Roles during the Colonial Period 147

9 Western Skills and Service Careers 169

Part 4 Other Public Roles and Broader Issues

10 Religion, Cultural Forms, and Associations 189

11 Regents and Chiefs, Economic Organizations, and Politics 216

12 Patriarchy, Colonialism, and Women's Agency 240

Glossary of Yoruba Words 247

Notes 249

List of References 295

Index 321

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