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Family Matters: Feminist Concepts in African Philosophy of Culture (SUNY series, Feminist Philosophy)

ISBN: 9780791467442
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Edition: annotated edition
Publication Date: 2006-03-09
Number of pages: 330
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Charts new trends in gender studies through a compelling analysis of Igbo society.

Prior to European colonialism, Igboland, a region in Nigeria, was a nonpatriarchal, nongendered society governed by separate but interdependent political systems for men and women. In the last one hundred fifty years, the Igbo family has undergone vast structural changes in response to a barrage of cultural forces. Critically rereading social practices and oral and written histories of Igbo women and the society, Nkiru Uwechia Nzegwu demonstrates how colonial laws, edicts, and judicial institutions facilitated the creation of gender inequality in Igbo society. Nzegwu exposes the unlikely convergence of Western feminist and African male judges’ assumptions about “traditional” African values where women are subordinate and oppressed. Instead she offers a conception of equality based on historical Igbo family structures and practices that challenges the epistemological and ontological bases of Western feminist inquiry.

“Nzegwu has produced a genuinely groundbreaking text that will no doubt have a major impact on the study of Africa and our historical understanding of the social and political dynamics of the construction of ‘modern’ families and gender relations for generations to come.” — Lewis R. Gordon, author of Existentia Africana: Understanding Africana Existential Thought

“I know of no other book expressing the reality of West African women through such a clear and strong indigenous voice, one that requires scholars take much more seriously questions about the foundations of their disciplines. Nzegwu is not only explaining the distinctive aspects of West African gendered social organization and its implications for critical understanding of North American society, and of ourselves generally, but also addressing the epistemological significance of such a distinctive conception of gender.” — Susan E. Babbitt, author of Artless Integrity: Moral Imagination, Agency, and Stories

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