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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Engendering humanism in French West Africa: patriarchy and the paradox of Empire
Author:Griffiths, ClaireISNI
Year:2013
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Volume:46
Issue:3
Pages:353-372
Language:English
Geographic terms:French West Africa
France
Subjects:anthropology
colonialism
women
gender
historical sources
Abstract:Drawing from a resource of over a thousand pages of observations on the lifestyles of African men, women, and families in French West Africa in the 1930s, this paper analyses ethnographic reports produced by a female education officer, Denise Savineau, who was employed in the colonial adminstrative headquarters of French West Africa. The particular value of Savineau's reports to contemporary studies of the French colonial project is threefold: they are an example of developments in the ethnographic sciences in the interwar period; they incorporate an unusual gendering of the colonial perspective; and they focus on African women. Savineau's work is chronologically part of the first wave of colonial studies launched in the interwar period. However, without claiming that her work is in anyway 'postcolonial' in inspiration, the partial externality she occupies in relation to the dominant discourse of empire, a position determined by her rank, gender, and race, push her work nearer to a second wave of empire studies focused on revealing the infamy of colonization. By placing Savineau's contribution to the colonial archive within a gender studies perspective, the article raises broader questions about how the gender of knowledge production is confronted and challenged in contemporary French empire studies. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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