Women's Voices, Women's Power: Dialogues of Resistance from East Africa / Edition 2

Women's Voices, Women's Power: Dialogues of Resistance from East Africa / Edition 2

by Judith Abwunza
Pub. Date:
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division


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Women's Voices, Women's Power: Dialogues of Resistance from East Africa / Edition 2

Most ethnographic treatments of other cultures restrict the voice of their "subjects"; at most, description and analysis by the observer are accompanied by brief selective quotation. With a methodological openness that may be particularly appropriate to gender studies, anthropologist Judith Abwunza provides in this ethnography both the fruit of her research into the lives of Logoli women of Western Kenya and substantial transcripts giving the women's own description and analysis of their situation.

The Avalogoli remain a strongly patriarchal society. Yet, as in many such societies elsewhere in Africa and indeed around the world, women have demonstrated a resilience under patriarchy that has resulted in their nominal power being far outweighed by their actual power. As Abwunza demonstrates, the economic survival of the Avalogoli is dependent not only on women's works but also on their decision-making. Through 'back-door decisions' they have a surprising power to influence national as well as local events.

Women's Voices, Women's Power offers no apologies for a system that remains disturbingly patriarchal. But it does attempt to face directly the complexities and paradoxes involved—not the least of which is that many of the women posture an adherence to patriarchy even as they describe the disproportionate burden it places upon them. And it seeks an understanding of the ways in which Logoli society is changing in the face of increasing capitalism and commodification—processes that the author argues may simultaneously empower and disempower women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442601147
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
Publication date: 02/01/1997
Series: Teaching Culture: UTP Ethnographies for the Classroom Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

The late Judith Abwunza was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Anthropologicaand Journal of Contemporary African Studies.

Table of Contents

Map One: Kenya and Western Province

Map Two: Maragoli

Part I: Unearthing the Patriarchal World

Introduction to Part I

A Note on Language


Chapter One: Avalogoli

Geography and Description of Place

Migration and Settlement: Avlogoli History



Notes on Avalogoli Traditions and Beliefs

Chapter Two: Women's Power and Voice

Patriarchy and Power

Women's Voices

Conclusions to Part I

Part II: Women's Work

Introduction to Part II

Chapter Three: "Home Work"

The Daily Routine

The Annual Cycle

Chapter Four: "Outside Work"

"Digging for Others"


Full-Time Wage Labour

Conclusion to Part II

Part III: Back Door Decisions

Introduction to Part III

Chapter Five: The House and the Yard



Reciprocal Obligations and Benefits

Chapter Six: Expanding the Back Door




State Politics


Conclusion to Part III

Part IV: "Posterity" and "Progress," Needs and Means

Introduction to Part IV

Chapter Seven: She Eats for Nothing!

African Overpopulation

Kenyan Overpopulation

Western Province and Kakamega District


Logoli Women

Chapter Eight: "Silika—To Make Our Lives Shine"


Maragoli Women Groups

Conclusion to Part IV

Part V: Burying the Patriarchal World?

Chapter Nine: Omwene Hango Default



Works Cited


What People are Saying About This

Teresa Holmes

This book is an important addition to the still relatively small body of ethnographic literature that seeks to convey an understanding of the contemporary lives, concerns and predicaments of third world women through their own words and actions.

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