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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Gendered reactions to social dislocation and missionary activity in Xhosaland 1836-1847
Author:Erlank, NatashaISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:gender relations
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Abstract:This article examines the effects of cattle theft and missionary activities on gender relations among the Xhosa to the west of the Kei River, South Africa, in the first half of the nineteenth century. It further describes the reactions of the Xhosa to missionary teaching which impinged on proper sex and gender relations. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Xhosa consisted of a number of independent chiefdoms. The possession of power in the chiefdoms rested on a series of inequalities which had their origin in the control men had over women. When missionaries entered the area they made attempts to intervene in Xhosa gender relations which would have disrupted social organization and so threatened the distribution of power in Xhosa society. For this reason Xhosa chiefs engaged in a number of attempts to stave off the potential effects of the social disruption presaged by the missionaries. At the same time colonial cattle theft was having an impact on Xhosa gender relations. Cattle was especially important when it came to the perpetuation of the conventions which governed the relations between the sexes and their reproduction. Their possession was an important gauge to male status. Therefore the diminution in the number of cattle in circulation also threatened the maintenance of Xhosa gender relations. Bibliogr., notes, ref.