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Gender and Power in Sierra Leone : Women Chiefs of the Last Two Centuries - L. Day

Gender and Power in Sierra Leone

Women Chiefs of the Last Two Centuries

By: L. Day

Hardcover Published: 17th January 2012
ISBN: 9780230102439
Number Of Pages: 229

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This book uses Sierra Leone to explore gendered political authority, illuminating the roles it plays in women's history, political history, and political transformation. Sierra Leone is in many ways an exceptional case, for in contrast to other areas where colonialism destroyed female leadership, colonial agents within the region accommodated extant hierarchical structures, including female leaders who controlled land, people, and armed men. Author Lynda Day shows that women chiefs in this region demonstrate a distinct model of female political leadership, combining elements from both complex state-based political systems and parallel lineage-based gendered systems. Through this unusual combination of means of legitimization, they set themselves apart from other female political authority figures in West, Central, and Southern Africa.

'Using interviews, observation, archival sources, and photos, Day carefully constructs an historical study of female chieftaincies in the southern and eastern provinces of Sierra Leone. Strong ethnographic and historical background sets the stage for understanding the resilience of women paramount chiefs in Mende society. Excellent case studies of individual women paramount chiefs appear throughout. Recommended.' - CHOICE

'Professor Day has demonstrated convincingly in this book that far from being political aberrations or colonial creations, female chiefs in Sierra Leone have many historical antecedents and that they emerged from indigenous principles embedded in lineage dynamics, cultural associations, and gendered roles. The lives, challenges, and triumphs of prominent female leaders in colonial and postcolonial Sierra Leone are recounted eloquently and critically but also with empathy and sensitivity to local cultural nuances. The work offers a refreshingly female- and African-centered perspective of understanding power and authority in an African setting. This illuminating and richly textured interdisciplinary analysis of an alternate model of power and authority in West Africa should interest students and scholars of African History, Feminism, and Cultural Anthropology.' Ismail Rashid, associate professor of History, Vassar College

'Lynda Day's engagingly written, provocative work combines sharp analysis of the fluidity of constructed gender with a solidly grounded historical account of the gendered strategies of Mende women chiefs from the pre-colonial period through the civil war and post-war reconstruction. Day reclaims the literature celebrating African queens and transforms it into a subtle analysis of gendered political and social power, revealing the 'traditional' authority of women chiefs not as a fixed form no longer appropriate for contemporary gender politics, but as a mode of political leadership that can be adapted to changing historical circumstances and opportunities, potentially creating new forms of complementary not oppositional gendered political authority.' Judith Van Allen, research fellow, Institute for African Development, Cornell University

Gender and Power: The Women Chiefs of Sierra Leone Men's and Women's Cultural Associations: The Construction of Gender and Gendered Authority Women of Authority Before the Colonial Era Women Chiefs During the Nineteenth Century Wars of Trade, Expansion, and State-Building Women Leaders and the Mediation of Colonial Rule Women Chiefs and the Nation State The Sierra Leone Civil War and the Challenges for Women's Customary Authority

ISBN: 9780230102439
ISBN-10: 0230102433
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 229
Published: 17th January 2012
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0  x 1.78
Weight (kg): 0.44
Edition Number: 1