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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reproducing Culture and Society: Women and the Politics of Gender, Age and Social Rank in Walata
Author:Cleveland, Timothy
Year:2000
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies
Volume:34
Issue:2
Pages:189-217
Language:English
Geographic term:Mauritania
Subjects:elite
women
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/486414
Abstract:This article presents evidence suggesting that women in the small Saharan town of Wal»ata (Mauritania) have been important creators and transmitters of gender constructs that stigmatize women's bodies and limit women's social freedoms. The evidence describes how 20th-century Wal»ati women have produced culture, and how certain women benefit from the gendered notions implicit in these cultural representations. The author argues that economic status and age have been important considerations in Wal»ati women's reckoning of their personal interests. These non-gender aspects of their identities explain why many women, especially senior elites, have helped to perpetuate gendered stereotypes that most Western scholars would consider to be patriarchal. Their roles in cultural production and reproduction have given them power, and they have often used this power to reinforce the prevailing gender constructs. The primary reason for this phenomenon is that elite Wal»ati women have few economic opportunities besides those provided by the patriarchal economy. The evidence from Wal»ata suggests that patriarchy is not primarily the product of a struggle between men and women; rather, it is part of a complex hierarchy that many elite women have helped to create and defend. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.
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