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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Queen and quean: managing and imagining power and gender in Sasstown, Liberia
Author:Tonkin, ElizabethISNI
Periodical:Focaal: tijdschrift voor antropologie
Geographic term:Liberia
Subjects:gender relations
women rulers
Abstract:Jlao Kru in southeastern Liberia used to have a 'sacred kingship'. This paper describes the roles attributed to the king's consort, the queen, in relation to her husband and to the community, and the available evidence of actions taken by actual holders of the office. The queen's responsibilities and duties are discussed for the period 1900-1918, when political and material turmoil included the imposition of central government power and the demise of the polity's own politico-religious structures. Besides many accounts of the queen's ritual status and peacemaking powers, a missionary diary shows elders installing a refractory woman as queen in an unsuccessful attempt to curb her. The study uses diverse types of evidence with which to reconstruct Jlao imagining of gender through the paired institution of king and queen, and argues that uncertainties raised during a time of acute conflict about the future were projected as gender issues, so that the queen became a focus for attempts to manage women as well as for using their refractoriness for the community. The study also argues that the widespread African practices of sacred kingship must be seen in an action context, since they are sites where different kinds of power were asserted and contested, and that imaginings of power included questions of gender. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. (p. 175-176).