The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses (Google eBook)

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U of Minnesota Press, 1997 - 229 pages
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The "woman question", this book asserts, is a Western one, and not a proper lens for viewing African society. A work that rethinks gender as a Western construction, The Invention of Women offers a new way of understanding both Yoruban and Western cultures.

Oyeronke Oyewumi reveals an ideology of biological determinism at the heart of Western social categories -- the idea that biology provides the rationale for organizing the social world. And yet, she writes, the concept of "woman", central to this ideology and to Western gender discourses, simply did not exist in Yorubaland, where the body was not the basis of social roles.

Oyewumi traces the misapplication of Western, body-oriented concepts of gender through the history of gender discourses in Yoruba studies. Her analysis shows the paradoxical nature of two fundamental assumptions of feminist theory: that gender is socially constructed and that the subordination of women is universal. The Invention of Women demonstrates, to the country, that gender was not constructed in old Yoruba society, and that social organization was determined by relative age.

  

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Contents

Western Theories and African Subjects
1
Chapter 2 Reconstituting the Cosmology and Sociocultural Institutions of OyoYorb
31
The Invention of Men and Kings in the Writing of Oyo Oral Traditions
80
Gender and Colonialism
121
Engendering Yorb Language Orature and WorldSense
157
Notes
181
Bibliography
209
Index
223
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About the author (1997)

Oyeronke Oyewumi is assistant professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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