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Gender and power in Sierra Leone [electronic resource] : women chiefs of the last two centuries /
Lynda Day.
1st ed.
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
xiv, 229 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
0230102433 (alk. paper), 9780230102439 (alk. paper)
More Details
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
0230102433 (alk. paper)
9780230102439 (alk. paper)
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-09-01:
Using interviews, observation, archival resources, and photos, Day (Africana studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY) carefully constructs an historical study of female chieftaincies in the southern and eastern provinces of Sierra Leone. Nineteenth-century records indicate 10 percent of Mende chiefs were women; a comparable percentage exists today, with 13 female paramount chiefs in the country in 2011. Aspects of Mende culture allow for women as chiefs: the complementarity of women's and men's associations; lineages of ruling families; women's longstanding position as political mediators; the profound importance of the status of motherhood. Day investigates women chiefs before, during, and after colonialism, during the construction of the independent state, and the effect of the civil war on women's leadership roles. 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. The author collected data on six research trips spanning 28 years (1978-2007), which complements Carol MacCormack's work on women leaders among the neighboring Sherbro people. A list of 61 female chiefs from 1860 on is appended, as are detailed footnotes for each chapter. There is no formal bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries. R. Ellovich North Carolina State University
Review Quotes
'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 complementarynot oppositionalgendered political authority.'Judith Van Allen, research fellow, Institute for African Development, Cornell University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2012
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This text addresses the gendered political authority in Sierra Leone. It looks at the part it plays in women's history, political history, political transformation in Africa, and global women's political leadership.
Description for Bookstore
This book addresses the gendered political authority in Sierra Leone and the part it plays in history, political transformation in Africa, and global women's political leadership
Main Description
This book addresses the gendered political authority in Sierra Leone, a relatively unknown topic, and looks at the part it plays in women's history, political history, political transformation in Africa, and global women's political leadership.
Main Description
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.

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