- The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History
- List of Contributors
- Introduction African Histories: Past, Present, and Future
- Ecology and Environment
- Demography and Disease
- African Slave Trades in Global Perspective
- States and Statelessness
- Ethnicity and Identity
- Warfare and the Military
- The African Diaspora
- African Colonial States
- Law, Crime, and Punishment in Colonial Africa
- Work and Migration
- Between the Present and History: African Nationalism and Decolonization
- Indigenous African Religions
- New Religious Movements
- Education and Literacy
- Women and Gender
- Urbanization and Urban Cultures
- Health and Healing
- Economic Growth
- Visual Cultures
- Music in Modern African History
- African Literary Histories and History in African Literatures
- Communications and Media in African History
Abstract and Keywords
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were a period of turbulence and change in Africa; men and women navigated that turbulence in part by redefining gender. Power in African societies has historically been linked to seniority determined by age, sexuality, reproductive capacity, spiritual aptitude, physical strength, and wealth. Individuals have acted to reshape their horizons of possibility by jockeying for seniority through shifting means over time. Flows of ideas, peoples, cultures, and goods introduced new constructions of gender that have been adapted and transformed in the African context, generating new avenues of manœuvre through courts, schooling, and markets. No single credible narrative of either ascension or decline can be told about women’s experiences in the history of modern Africa because what it has meant to be a woman has been constantly renegotiated. Male bodies and masculinity have shifted in meaning and potential as well.
Barbara M. Cooper is Professor of History at Rutgers University. She earned her BA at St. John’s College and her PhD at Boston University. Her work explores gender, religion, and family life over the long twentieth century. Recent publications include Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), which won the Herskovits Award in 2007. She is a co-editor of the Journal of African History and is currently writing a history of motherhood and fertility in Niger.
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