Most ethnographic treatments of other cultures restrict the voice of their "subjects"; at most, description and analysis by the observer are accompanied by brief selective quotation. With a methodological openness that may be particularly appropriate to gender studies, anthropologist Judith Abwunza provides in this ethnography both the fruit of her research into the lives of Logoli women of Western Kenya and substantial transcripts giving the women's own description and analysis of their situation. The Avalogoli remain a strongly patriarchal society. Yet, as in many such societies elsewhere in Africa and indeed around the world, women have demonstrated a resilience under patriarchy that has resulted in their nominal power being far outweighed by their actual power. As Abwunza demonstrates, the economic survival of the Avalogoli is dependent not only on women's works but also on their decision-making. Through 'back-door decisions' they have a surprising power to influence national as well as local events. Women's Voices, Women's Power offers no apologies for a system that remains disturbingly patriarchal.
But it does attempt to face directly the complexities and paradoxes involved-not the least of which is that many of the women posture an adherence to patriarchy even as they describe the disproportionate burden it places upon them. And it seeks an understanding of the ways in which Logoli society is changing in the face of increasing capitalism and commodification-processes that the author argues may simultaneously empower and disempower women.
The late Judith Abwunza was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Anthropologicaand Journal of Contemporary African Studies.
Map One: Kenya and Western Province Map Two: Maragoli Part I: Unearthing the Patriarchal World Introduction to Part I A Note on Language Acknowledgements Chapter One: Avalogoli Geography and Description of Place Migration and Settlement: Avlogoli History Ethnicity Economy Notes on Avalogoli Traditions and Beliefs Chapter Two: Women's Power and Voice Patriarchy and Power Women's Voices Conclusions to Part I Part II: Women's Work Introduction to Part II Chapter Three: "Home Work" The Daily Routine The Annual Cycle Chapter Four: "Outside Work" "Digging for Others" Entrepreneurs Full-Time Wage Labour Conclusion to Part II Part III: Back Door Decisions Introduction to Part III Chapter Five: The House and the Yard Land Vika Reciprocal Obligations and Benefits Chapter Six: Expanding the Back Door Marriage Birth Death State Politics Abuse Conclusion to Part III Part IV: "Posterity" and "Progress," Needs and Means Introduction to Part IV Chapter Seven: She Eats for Nothing! African Overpopulation Kenyan Overpopulation Western Province and Kakamega District Maragoli Logoli Women Chapter Eight: "Silika--To Make Our Lives Shine" Silika Maragoli Women Groups Conclusion to Part IV Part V: Burying the Patriarchal World? Chapter Nine: Omwene Hango Default Glossary Endnotes Works Cited Index