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Title:Re-appropriating matrifocality: endogeneity and African gender scholarship
Author:Adsn, Jm O.ISNI
Periodical:African Sociological Review (ISSN 1027-4332)
Geographic term:Africa
gender studies
About persons:Ifi Amadiume (1947-)ISNI
Oyrnk OyewmISNI
Abstract:A central concern of many Southern sociologists has been the crisis of 'intellectual dependence' (Alatas 2000). Averting what Hountondji (1997) refers to as 'extraversion' involves separating what is idiographic in Western social science scholarship from its nomothetic aspirations; what Chakrabathy (2000) called 'provincializing Europe'. It involves excavating local 'libraries' (Zeleza 2006b) and scholarship that takes its 'locale' or research site on its own terms. 'The study of Africa', Oyewumi (2004) argued, 'must start with Africa'. The present author explores the works of Ifi Amadiume and Oyeronke Oyewumi as such ventures in endogeneity, and examples of the contribution that African sociologists make when they take their ethnographic data on its own terms; without status anxiety. He examines the contributions of Amadiume and Oyewumi to gender scholarship, focusing on the idea of matrifocality or matricentricity. While not a new concept, the idea of matrifocal or matricentric societies acquires distinct valency in their epistemic framework and as the basis for theorizing matriarchy. Rather than an exercise in the archaeology of a 'mythical pre-historic past' (Eller 2000), matricentricity in Amadiume's works accounts for the structural and ideological conditions of many African societies. It affords us the basis for transcending the 'biologic' (Oyewumi 1997) of dominant Western feminist discourses. Beyond the epistemic rupture that it produces in Gender Studies, the concept of matrifocality has wider heuristic value. The author illustrates its theoretical value for rethinking 'Identity', beyond the prevailing patricentric framing, and in allowing us to make sense of contemporary African data. Bibliogr., note, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]