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Amadiume, Ifeyinwa (1983) The social and cultural construction of gender realities in an Igbo society: Nnobi case study. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In this thesis, I examine the politics of sex and gender in the social and cultural systems of an Igbo community (Nnobi) at three historical periods. Even though sexual dualism was pervasive of indigenous institutions, the separation of the sexes was mediated by the flexible gender system of the traditional language and culture. Sex did not always correspond to gender, and women could, therefore, play roles usually monopolized by men, or be classified as 'males' in terms of power and authority over others. This was possible because such roles were not rigidly masculinized or feminized, and there was therefore no stigma attached to the breaking of gender rules. Furthermore, the presence of a matriarchal ideology embedded in a goddess-focused religion, favoured and encouraged the acceptance of women in central positions of authority. In contrast to the traditional culture, I show how Western culture, religion and education attendant on colonialism, introduced a rigid gender system which strictly masculinized and feminized roles. Traditional women's power was, therefore, eroded. The post-independence period, on the other hand, saw the revival of traditional culture, co-existing with Western cultures and institutions. There were, however, in that traditional culture, enough contradictions which local men could manipulate, in order to marginalize the position of their womenfolk in the political structures of the contemporary society.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:10

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