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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Fashioning Sexuality: Desire, Manyema Ethnicity, and the Creation of the 'Kanga', ca. 1880-1900
Author:MacCurdy, Sheryl
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Tanzania
Subjects:ethnic identity
culture contact
female dress
female elite
social history
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:Drawing from Swahili texts and the accounts of explorers, travellers and missionaries, the author argues that the 'kanga' - an elaborately patterned rectangular piece of cloth which developed into the iconic cloth as it is known today - came to symbolize the power of an African community with origins in central Africa and embody notions of Manyema ethnicity, an ethnicity that emerged after Zanzibari traders expanded their frontier into the central African area northwest of Ujiji, destroying existing communities in the process. Despite this devastation, elements of the indigenous groups moved east across Lake Tanganyika where they forged a new identity as Manyema. Manyema ethnicity grew from forged notions of community - the result of the fusion of common associational practices of spirit possession and 'unyago' (an association/rite of womanhood with teachings about the life cycle: puberty, marriage, birth), elite notions and practices of fashion and beauty, rumours surrounding their ferocity, and elements of their courage and freedom. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]