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Women in Twentieth-Century Africa
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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Colonizing African families; 2. Confrontation and adaptation; 3. Domesticity and modernization; 4. Mothers of nationalism; 5. The struggle continues; 6. 'Messengers of a new design': marriage, family and sexuality; 7. Women's rights: the second decolonization?; 8. Empowerment and inequality in a new global age; Conclusion.

Promotional Information

Explores the paradoxical image of African women as exceptionally oppressed, but also as strong, resourceful and rebellious.

About the Author

Iris Berger is Professor of History, Emerita at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of South Africa in World History (2009), Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Restoring Women to History, with E. Frances White (1999); Threads of Solidarity: Women in South African Industry, 1900-1980 (1992); and the award-winning Religion and Resistance: East African Kingdoms in the Precolonial Period (1981). She is also the co-editor of African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony and Refugee Rights (2015) and Women and Class in Africa (1986) and a past President of the African Studies Association.

Reviews

'Finally, a lucid, concise and lively synthesis of scholarly work on women in twentieth-century Africa suitable for undergraduates. Berger features life history, fiction, and song to bring major dynamics in African history to life, firmly placing African women at the center of her narrative. She retains a strong authorial voice but succeeds in leaving the reader room for reflection and debate. The book also includes a useful discussion of references for further reading; it will prove a valuable resource for students and researchers. Women in Twentieth-Century Africa would be suitable for use in general courses on African history as well as more focused courses on women and gender.' Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University, New Jersey
'Acknowledgement of women's contributions in the development of 20th-century Africa and the dynamic forces propelling them is advancing from obscurity to recognition. Berger examines these transformations as women confront issues ranging from 'marriage, family, and sexuality' to relationships with men. Using diverse examples, the author highlights the complex, contradictory challenges women of all ages face, marital status, faith, class, and urban or rural life. ... Berger shows how important continuities in attitude and institutions, controversies, and divisions persist. Women were transformed in various ways as they confronted new opportunities and new crises yet faced unfulfilled expectations and 'extreme vulnerability and powerlessness' in societies dominated by men ... Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.' Z. N. Nchinda, Choice
'Captures the complexities of African women's lives in the twentieth century. ... Each chapter contains rich accounts of social history that reveal the contradictory ways in which larger political, economic, and cultural forces shape the spaces women inhabit as mothers, wives, daughters, subjects, and citizens. Berger successfully challenges the often diametrically opposed representations of African women - as downtrodden or powerful - as well as the tendency to reduce African women to monolithic groups. The narrative demonstrates the ways in which women's experiences throughout the twentieth century were shaped by dynamic and competing ideologies of masculinity and femininity, local cultures, and the various stages in the life cycle. ...[Berger] has provided a rich synthesis of data drawn from old and new classics as well as examples from East, West, central, and southern Africa.' Judith A. Byfield, African Studies Review
'... not only is [Iris Berger's] approach to this complex and dynamic subject refreshingly novel, but she also taps into the most recent secondary materials available on the subject to write an informative book.' Hassoum Ceesay, African Studies Quarterly
"Finally, a lucid, concise and lively synthesis of scholarly work on women in twentieth-century Africa suitable for undergraduates. Berger features life history, fiction, and song to bring major dynamics in African history to life, firmly placing African women at the center of her narrative. She retains a strong authorial voice but succeeds in leaving the reader room for reflection and debate. The book also includes a useful discussion of references for further reading; it will prove a valuable resource for students and researchers. Women in Twentieth-Century Africa would be suitable for use in general courses on African history as well as more focused courses on women and gender." Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University, New Jersey
'Acknowledgement of women's contributions in the development of 20th-century Africa and the dynamic forces propelling them is advancing from obscurity to recognition. Berger examines these transformations as women confront issues ranging from `marriage, family, and sexuality' to relationships with men. Using diverse examples, the author highlights the complex, contradictory challenges women of all ages face, marital status, faith, class, and urban or rural life. ... Berger shows how important continuities in attitude and institutions, controversies, and divisions persist. Women were transformed in various ways as they confronted new opportunities and new crises yet faced unfulfilled expectations and `extreme vulnerability and powerlessness' in societies dominated by men ... Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.' Z. N. Nchinda, Choice
'Captures the complexities of African women's lives in the twentieth century. ... Each chapter contains rich accounts of social history that reveal the contradictory ways in which larger political, economic, and cultural forces shape the spaces women inhabit as mothers, wives, daughters, subjects, and citizens. Berger successfully challenges the often diametrically opposed representations of African women - as downtrodden or powerful - as well as the tendency to reduce African women to monolithic groups. The narrative demonstrates the ways in which women's experiences throughout the twentieth century were shaped by dynamic and competing ideologies of masculinity and femininity, local cultures, and the various stages in the life cycle. ...[Berger] has provided a rich synthesis of data drawn from old and new classics as well as examples from East, West, central, and southern Africa.' Judith A. Byfield, African Studies Review
'... not only is [Iris Berger's] approach to this complex and dynamic subject refreshingly novel, but she also taps into the most recent secondary materials available on the subject to write an informative book.' Hassoum Ceesay, African Studies Quarterly

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