Conjugal wrongs: gender violence in African women’s literature

Cousins, Helen Rachel (2001). Conjugal wrongs: gender violence in African women’s literature. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis considers ways in which African women writers are exploring the subject of violence against women. Any attempt to apply feminist criticism to novels by African women must be rooted in a satisfactorily African feminism. Therefore, the history of black feminist thought is outlined showing how African feminisms have been articulated in dialogue with western feminists, black feminisms (developed by women in the African-American diaspora), and through recognition of indigenous ideologies which allowed African women to protest against oppression.
Links will be established between the texts, despite their differences, which suggest that, collectively, these novels support the notion that gender violence affects the lives of a majority of African women (from all backgrounds) to a greater or lesser extent. This is because it is supported by the social structures developed and sustained in cultures underpinned by patriarchal ideologies.
A range of strategies for managing violence arise from a cross-textual reading of the novels. These will be analysed in terms of their efficacy and rootedness in African feminisms’ principles. The more effective strategies being adopted are found in works by Ama Ata Aidoo and Lindsey Collen and these focus particularly on changing the meanings of motherhood and marriage.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Historical Studies
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Centre for West African Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania


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