Top > African Study Monographs > ASM Supplementary Issue Back Number > No. 46 (2013)

Gender-based Knowledge and Techniques in Africa


Edited by Morie KANEKO & Masayoshi SHIGETA


pp. 1-4

PREFACE

Morie KANEKO & Masayoshi SHIGETA

PDF file of body text (264 KB)


pp. 5-25

TRANSFORMING CLAY: GAMO CASTE, GENDER, AND POTTERY OF SOUTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA

John W. ARTHUR
Department of Society, Culture, and Languages, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida Saint Petersburg

ABSTRACT
      Among the Gamo of southwestern Ethiopia, a select group of women continue to make pottery offering an opportunity to study how potters learn and practice their craft within a caste structure. Gamo potters are predominately women, husbands and other male family members occasionally may help with certain aspects of pottery production and distribution. The potter’s social standing in Gamo society determines that they have limited farmland, which forces potters to work as full-time craft specialists. Since Gamo society is virilocal, women potters will typically learn their craft in their natal community but then will have to relearn the complex production and distribution sequences once they move to their husband’s community. A potter will also encounter a new set of economic conditions at her husband’s house that may influence the degree to which family members are dependent upon her skill. A potter’s skill can be tested if resources are not available, such as proper clays, room to store and dry her pots, and finding materials for firing. Thus, she has to use her skill to transform the clays into pots that will be economically viable for her family. Furthermore, she will need to forge new relationships with non-potter community members in order for her to trade her pots for money or food. This larger interplay between gender and caste is countered by the individual potter’s skill and how potters manage their limited resources as Gamo artisans.

Key Words: Caste; Gender; Gamo; Pottery; Ethnoarchaeology.

PDF file of body text (7,595 KB)


pp. 27-52

GENDER-BASED TEXTILE-WEAVING TECHNIQUES OF THE AMHARA IN NORTHERN ETHIOPIA

Jumpei ITAGAKI
Department of the Science of Arts, Osaka University of Arts

ABSTRACT
      In the northern area of Amhara, weavers produce a garment worn by many, made from a pure white, transparent woven material. Many weavers across Africa, including those in northern Ethiopia, are men. They are both full-time and migrant, the latter coming from the countryside during the slack farming season. Moreover, in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara, many prisoners weave the textile, in conformance with the division of labor system to receive an income during the terms of their sentences. Therefore, textile weaving in this area is not limited to skilled craftsmen (full-time weavers); even the unskilled such as prisoners and migrants have the opportunity to weave. However, Amhara’s textile weaving industry is male-dominated; women are only involved in spinning the cotton thread in preparation for the weaving. This paper focuses on the weaving techniques and features of Amhara’s textiles. Additionally, it investigates whether women’s involvement in textile weaving can be expanded.

Key Words: Northern Ethiopia; Weaving technique; Amhara textile; Transformed tool; Multi-utilization of technique.

PDF file of body text (8,307 KB)


pp. 53-80

MATERIAL ENTANGLEMENTS: GENDER, RITUAL, AND POLITICS AMONG THE BORADA OF SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA

Kathryn Weedman ARTHUR
Department of Society, Culture, and Languages, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida Saint Petersburg

ABSTRACT
      Women’s status, knowledge, and artisan technologies among the Borada of southern Ethiopia have transformed significantly in the last 100 years. In their indigenous religion, many Borada artisans and farmers mediated change through rites of passage to achieve different statuses in society. Subsequently, an individual’s (artisan and farmer) action fields and boundaries in the community and household were dependent on their status, including gender. Furthermore, many Borada believed that as they produced material culture such as iron works, ceramics, stone tools, houses, and food, that these objects also transitioned through rites of passage stages. Like a Borada human being, the stage/status of material culture was indicated by its location in the region, community, and household. This paper will review Borada indigenous perspectives concerning gender and material culture production and how their world view transformed with the introduction of global religions and with the impact of national politics through examining women’s life histories.

Key Words: Gender; Religion; Material culture; Rites of passage.

PDF file of body text (3,808 KB)


pp. 81-96

TRANSMIGRATION AMONG AARI WOMAN POTTERS IN SOUTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA AND THE ACCUMULATION OF EXPERIENCE IN POTTERY-MAKING TECHNIQUES

Morie KANEKO
Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
      This paper aims to describe the relationship between transmigration among Aari women potters in southwestern Ethiopia and the accumulation of their experience in potterymaking techniques. Aari people do not view favorably women who spend excessive time outside their homes. However, several cases have been observed in which pottery women who ventured outside their homes have been accepted by their husbands and the husbands’ relatives. This presentation focuses on women potters’ transmigrations after marriage, and preliminary conclusions show that the accumulation of their experience in pottery-making techniques allows women potters who have been divorced several times to establish a new lifestyle based on pottery-making. An examination of the dates of the techno-life histories—life histories combined with knowledge and techniques—of approximately 20 potters provides three points, which are related to the change in their techniques. Transmigration among Aari women potters socially continues, and potters are flexible in changing their pottery-making techniques according to their transmigration, which is related to their social relationships with their husbands and children. Pottery-making techniques can bridge the gap between different social groups, provide potters an economic foundation, and help them establish new lifestyles that are based on their transmigration experiences.

Key Words: Aari women potters; Ethiopia; Techniques; Techno-life histories; New lifestyles.

PDF file of body text (1,809 KB)


pp. 97-120

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE VERSUS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: BRIDE SECLUSION AMONG THE MAALE AS A PERIOD OF PREPARATION AND CONSOLIDATION

Sophia THUBAUVILLE
Frobenius-Institut/Frankfurt am Main

ABSTRACT
      Among the Maale people of southern Ethiopia, as well as among many other groups all over the world, women remain in seclusion during the first weeks or months of their marriages. The manifold functions of this period of seclusion, which prepares women for their lives as wives and mothers, are often underestimated in present-day Ethiopia and are sometimes only partially practiced. The following article explains bride seclusion among the Maale and the local knowledge that is transferred through this cultural practice. In addition to strengthening certain gender-specific handicrafts, bride seclusion is an opportunity for young women to consolidate traditional musical skills. I will conclude the article with a discussion of the relationship between local knowledge and national development using the example of bride seclusion, which is currently becoming less common as women pursue formal education.

Key Words: Seclusion; Local knowledge; Knowledge transfer; Development.

PDF file of body text (2,107 KB)


pp. 121-133

FROM CATTLE HERDING TO SEDENTARY AGRICULTURE: THE ROLE OF HAMER WOMEN IN THE TRANSITION

Samuel Tefera
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
      The Hamer people make up a pastoral and agro-pastoral society that depends predominantly on livestock for its livelihood. Herding livestock involves seasonal migration to find grazing pastures, salt, and water. In the relatively fertile areas of the district, however, the Hamer practice farming and plow their fields with oxen. Due to insufficient rain in the lowlands, sustaining agricultural activities has been problematic despite the gradual increase in agrarian activities. Yet, the pastoral way of life is still unquestionably dominant. Hamer women cultivate sorghum, which has been their staple food for centuries. Migrating to areas with better grazing pastures inhabited by agro-pastoral groups has enhanced trade interactions and furthered the Hamer’s growing interest and skills in farming. Such economic interdependence—trade and the essential integration of farming with the pastoral system could have led to the exchange of goods and the change to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Key Words: Hamer; Farming; Women; Transition.

PDF file of body text (1,718 KB)


pp. 135-154

AGING AMONG THE AARI IN RURAL SOUTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA: LIVELIHOOD AND DAILY INTERACTIONS OF THE “GALTA

Mariko NOGUCHI
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
      This paper examines the conditions of elderly individuals living in rural southwestern Ethiopia by investigating their daily activities and their work lives, including how and with whom they work. This research was conducted primarily in one location in southwestern Ethiopia where many Aari individuals reside. All 16 elderly individuals, known as galta, who resided in this region received perfect scores on a measure of their ability to perform basic activities of daily livings (ADLs). They attempted to reduce their daily workloads by living near those who were related to them by blood or by marriage. Aari individuals who decrease their social interaction due to age or sickness are said to be tired (lanqta). Even elderly people without relatives required additional support. Indeed, galta often face severe hardships, but they can earn a living by relying on longstanding social relationships initially established before they became galta.

Key Words: The elderly; Social relationships; Care; ADLs; Rural southwestern Ethiopia.

PDF file of body text (771 KB)


pp. 155-173

WOMEN’S HOUSEWARES AND THEIR USAGE AMONG THE AARI

Yoshie MINAMI
Asia-Africa Joint Effort

Masayoshi SHIGETA
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

ABSTRACT
      The Aari people have invented various objects for utilization in a variety of contexts in their daily lives by appropriating local materials to meet their wants and needs. The new road infrastructure has developed to link the area to the urban, which has increased the number of people travelling including traders, missionaries and government officials to the South Omo Zone and has contributed to the influx of industrial goods such as metal utensils and clothes. This paper describes the conditions surrounding the Aari women’s use of exogenous objects used in their livelihood. It reports the results of the preliminary research conducted from August to November in 2010 and August to October in 2011. The survey focused on the lives of married women in Metser Village, South Ari District, South Omo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia. By focusing on women from five different backgrounds in terms of religion and age, three main points were revealed. First, food vessels and containers are generally appropriated from exogenous objects, whereas clay pots and agricultural tools are typically appropriated from indigenous objects. This finding implies that women select and utilize some objects in order to familiarize themselves with the objects for exogenous and indigenous use. Second, women of traditional religion and Protestant Christianity women differed in the ways in which they earn money. Women who believe traditional religion have a tendency to use indigenous objects in making alcohol. Third, women who cannot engage in making alcohol because they have converted to Protestantism engage in and sell a non-alcohol-type drink called shaamata, made of germinated maize. These findings imply that women subjectively structure their lives and respond flexibly to the flow of exogenous objects and Protestantism into their lives.

Key Words: Material culture; Utilization; Livelihood; South Omo; Ethiopia.

PDF file of body text (237 KB)