Outskirts online journal

Tanya Lyons

Further information

About the author

Tanya Lyons is completing a PhD at the University of Adelaide in the Department of Politics, on the topic of women guerrilla fighters in Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle. In 1996/97, she spent twelve months conducting research in Zimbabwe.

email: [email protected]

Publication details

Volume 4, May 1999

Gender and Development: African Women and Western Feminisms, and the dilemmas of doing feminist field work in Africa

This paper is intended to explore the dilemmas and contradictions faced by western women researching women in Africa.1 These dilemmas apply not only to women's issues, but to an array of research and development issues between the west and the "rest". It will be argued here that feminist theory and inquiry is well placed to question the locations of the researcher and the researched. The following also provides a rather personal account of my general angst at not wanting to buy into neo-imperialist discourse in the process of fulfilling academic objectives, in the quest for Gender and Development (GAD) theories and practice.

In my reading of the debate between Third World women and Western feminists there appears to be very little space for the western, feminist, Africanist to locate her work without being situated within the neo-imperial or Africanist/Orientalist discourse. 2 There are two perspectives identifiable within this debate that will be considered here. One perspective lays blame upon western feminist theorists for silencing the African woman in the very speech intended to liberate her from oppression. The other perspective claims an authoritative voice for western feminists within the discourse of "women in/and development" or Gender and Development. 3 While some respect may be paid to one’s identity, falling into the trap of "speaking for others" is quite frequent. 4 This paper examines these two categories in order to locate my research outside colonial (patriarchal?) discourse which purports to speak for others and inside a framework of feminist methodological fieldwork. This position could be considered unstable, sitting somewhere along the postmodern fence, balancing feminism with postcolonialism. However, this position will be achieved by engaging in a dialogue with African women through an understanding of Sekai Nzenza-Shand's 5 critique of western women researching African women, taking into consideration strategies of "empathetic cooperation" outlined by Christine Sylvester, 6 and the dilemmas of doing feminist fieldwork discussed by Jayati Lal. 7 This paper will explore the dilemmas faced by foreign (feminist) researchers investigating aspects of gender and development in Zimbabwe in the 1990s.

The "African women" I will be talking to in particular are Zimbabwean women ex-combatants. During the struggle for Zimbabwean Independence women played a significant role in nationalist protest, action and armed struggle. The ideological perceptions and representations of women as guerrilla fighters in particular have been the focus of my research, and the working title of my thesis is Guns and Guerrilla Girls: Zimbabwean Women in the National Liberation War.

In order to examine aspects of development for women in Zimbabwe, its actually quite important to distinguish between "women" and women ex-combatants, for example, just as it would be crucial to distinguish between rural women agricultural farmers, and urban women entrepreneurs. Directly after independence a department of women's affairs was established in order to facilitate women's development. It was based upon the assumptions that "women" fought equally with men in the liberation war and hence deserved "equality" after independence. Yet, the Ministry of Community Development and Women's Affairs did not make any special considerations for women ex-combatants, but treated all "women" as having the same experiences. What I argue is that women ex-combatants may have required special consideration given their experiences in the liberation war.

The Struggle for Representation

Is it useful to just analyse the already documented representations of Zimbabwean women ex-combatants? Or is it more useful to create even more representations by interviewing and transcribing the words of the women themselves, in the hope of gaining something different: a new perspective on an already documented area of study? Desiree Lewis, a South African feminist scholar, 8 has contended that it is more important to understand the power of representations between subject and audience. Lewis offers the case of Winnie Mandela-Madikezela to argue this point.

Lewis has argued that "black women", particularly in South Africa, have "little control over how they are represented in hegemonic naming systems, and for whom dominant groups' interpretations have far-reaching effects". 9 Winnie Mandela-Madikezela epitomises the black African woman freedom fighter, mother of the nation, and the passionate rebel. However, following allegations of corruption and murder she fell from grace after 30 years of struggle, but has maintained popular support in her own right. Now divorced from Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President of South Africa, her image has undergone major public scandal and debacle. Hence, Lewis decided that it was necessary to reconsider how she felt about Winnie Mandela, whom she had formed an opinion of based upon these representations, as not a very good role model for women in South Africa, after all. Lewis argues that

A 'commonsensical' way of beginning a reclamation [of Winnie Mandela] would be to access the 'real facts', to subvert the pattern of misrepresentation surrounding her, to interview her extensively and to construct a discourse which links her voice to my own. But this would end up as another misrepresentation: My autobiography filtered through my representation of Winnie Mandela, flawed by my inevitable situation in dominant discourses - irrespective of my 'best of intentions'. Another inauthentic and appropriative account of Winnie Mandela. 10

Hence, Lewis decided that "rather than write about Winnie Mandela ... [it is better] to write about how she has been talked about: what she has 'meant', how and why interpretations of her have ranged so dramatically from the extreme idealisation to vilification inside South Africa and beyond". 11

Applying such a methodology to the situation of women ex-combatants in Zimbabwe reveals women's similar lack of control over the representations. Given that a considerable amount of attention has been paid to the role of women in Zimbabwe's guerrilla war, is it necessary to go through the motions of interviewing another round of women ex-combatants in Zimbabwe to access the so-called facts in an attempt to subvert the (mis)representations surrounding them? Would this end up as just another (mis)representation, tainted by my own autobiography and position within a dominant discourse despite my best intentions?

For example, one interesting aspect to the literature produced about women in Zimbabwe's liberation war, is that much of it is based on or uses the women's own voices, mainly in interview situations with an academic scholar or local historian. The collection of oral testimony or histories from rural women who bore the brunt of guerrilla incursions and the suspicions of the Rhodesian police and army, has been a priority for feminist scholars both within Zimbabwe and from outside. 12

I argue here that it is important to let the woman ex-combatant in Zimbabwe have an opportunity to speak for herself, just as Lewis could invite Winnie Mandela's comments on how she feels about the misrepresentations about her, which could throw some light onto the political and historical details of the position of the Black African Woman in public discourse in Africa. Of the women ex-combatants in Zimbabwe that were interviewed for this research, most said that they appreciated the opportunity to talk about their experiences. Furthermore, if by letting the voice of the Zimbabwean woman ex-combatant be heard here, it becomes in itself another representation of 'her', then it is doubly important to acknowledge the dimensions of knowledge and power in discourse, which can go some way to provide a more accurate reflection of the historical circumstances surrounding not only women's experiences in war in Zimbabwe, but of the representations of these experiences in the dominant discourse.

Then it is necessary to follow this (self) 'description' with an analysis of how women ex-combatants are talked about, what they have 'meant' to Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean women, and analyse the dramatic variations in representations - from prostitutes to heroines: from street vegetable vendors to government ministers. To argue that it is more important to analyse the 'representations' only, rather than balancing this with at least an attempt at interviewing the subject, allows a justification of not wanting to hear what the 'truth' might be. What is the point of going to the field if you are not prepared to challenge your beliefs and assumptions? For example, if Lewis was able to get an interview with Winnie Mandela (which is quite difficult in itself) she might have learnt that Winnie Mandela did not care about how the media represents her, or she was consciously trying to cultivate her own image despite the discourse running away with it. This is mere speculation as I was unable to secure an interview with Winnie Mandela myself.

Dilemmas in Feminist Fieldwork 13

The dilemmas of doing feminist fieldwork in Zimbabwe are based in the "politics of identity". 14 The foreign, white, western, middle-class female, feminist might appear to have many advantages, but as a PhD student researching the roles and experiences of women ex-combatants in Zimbabwe she is often met by the "scepticism, defensiveness and ambivalence" of some Zimbabwean women who argue that this kind of research only serves to "silence" the African woman. 15 Sekai Nzenza argues that when white women speak, their voice is valued but when black women speak their "speech is denigrated in academic circles because [they] lack the language of theory". (16) She explains that there are culturally insensitive "obstacles to understanding" which contribute to the silencing of African women:

The difficulty is compounded by the problems and possibilities of high theory which at the present is the chosen mode of articulation. On the one hand I recognise its enabling potential and the fact that it cannot be shut out of African thinking. On the other, it is very distant from our experience and it is, after all, understood only by a small elite, largely in the Western world. (17)

Academic theories are usually generated for academic audiences. It is not simply high theory which uses and thus silences African women's experiences. The position from which the white woman researcher speaks from can guarantee some kind of an audience. Her work is more likely to be read in academic circles - she is more likely to speak - because the African woman is rarely located there. The African woman might speak in other ways, but perhaps in the western world we are incapable of hearing.

Nzenza suggests that the

future [for] feminist methodologies rel[ies] on oral forms of evidence. The only problem is how this data should be collected and how it is presented ... The researcher still retains the power to select questions, and to silence those words she feels are not important to her research. Clearly her ideological position also determines the way conclusions are drawn from raw data. The African woman remains a static, silent object of research, while her life is 'spoken for', and abond accountability, in questioning where and how we are located, that will get us out of mere reversals of the dualisms of native:non-native and insider:outsider positionings and onto a more productive engagement with the nature of our relationships with those whom we study and represent, onto questioning the nature of our insertion into the research process and its resultant representations, in ensuring that the "object of knowledge be pictured as an actor and agent, not as a screen or a ground or a resource". 21

The dilemma of accountability arises for the western feminist methodological approach when by necessity they are working within a university, and their audiences are academics. Lal warns for example that

this tendency to silence the subjects of our research is made even more disturbing in light of the fact that the conditions under which we produce and labor as intellectuals tend to push us into being more accountable to The Academy than the communities we study. 22

Thus it is necessary for me to examine not only my academic audience, but also to remain accountable to the women ex-combatants of Zimbabwe whom I interviewed. 23

In creating a dialogue between the subject and the researcher however, positive steps can be made to overcome this silencing and to ease the dilemmas of accountability. Although she has reservations Nzenza-Shand has said

I ... now feel that once the power relations between black and white women have been acknowledged, a dialogue on specific issues can begin. But I still cannot help wondering why these middleclass, public-school-educated young women from London choose to study African women. 24

This "ambivalence" to white women's interest in African women locates any research within colonial discourse, but instead of simply not getting involved in the research of "the Other", it is by far more important to create a "dialogue": talking and listening.

Nzenza has offered a critical methodology for the white western woman to research the 'African woman'. 25 Firstly, she explains how 'I' will be perceived in the field as coming from a position of power;

As African women occupying a marginal space, we have yet to claim our subjectivity in psychological terms. Without any form of direct exposure to the Western world on a personal level, African women's interpretation of a white woman's life is that of privilege and power. 26

As an Australian woman going to Zimbabwe to experience 'Africa' on a personal level it was necessary to take Nzenza's advice into account. My position of perceived power combined with my alleged perception of the African woman as being oppressed, needed to be challenged.

It is poignant to note that in Nzenza's writings there is a recurring theme dealing with the white woman researcher in Africa. Her critical methodology extends to her own fiction writing. The first time I met Sekai Nzenza was at the annual African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific Conference held in at La Trobe University, Victoria, in 1994. The theme of that particular conference was "Women in Africa", and I was completing my Honours thesis on that topic. 27 During the conference, Nzenza presented a story dealing with the relationship between a young African male and a foreign female researcher doing her fieldwork in an African village. The story was told from the point of view of the boy who observes this woman painstakingly typing up her thesis, from the vantage point of a nearby tree. In the story, when the woman eventually completes her manuscript she packs up her things and says thankyou and goodbye to the villagers. However, the boy has formed an attachment to her presence and does not want her to go. He realises that it is only the completed manuscript which is taking her away. Subsequently he throws it into the river. The story was told not to remind us to keep back up copies of our research on disk, but to inform us of the impact we will have when we go to do our "objective social research"!

As a critical postcolonial theorist, Nzenza's argument in this story forced me to question my own identity, as the potential foreign female researcher in her story. I realised that you cannot just barge into a host community and demand a 'take-away' thesis. The impact of doing social science research needs to be considered. You will necessarily make connections that cannot be severed. You will make friends or you might not make any. Any human interaction involves personal skills and cannot remain distant and objective. Christine Sylvester has suggested "empathetic cooperation" 28 for the western feminist doing research on African women. In this mode of "world-traveling" Sylvester suggests some travel tips derived from Alarcón: "learn to become unintrusive, unimportant, patient to the point of tears, while at the same time open to learning any possible lessons". 29 Without these tools you may well finish your trip before you have begun.

In mid-1996 when I began my own fieldwork in Zimbabwe, I went there with all of these considerations, concerns and questions packed in my hand-luggage should they be lost in transit. You could say I wanted to go on a guilt free trip! During my interviews with women-excombatants in Harare I was sensitive to their possible stereotyping of me as privileged and powerful. I tried to show them that I was just a student, struggling to connect on a more than simply colonial level with them. In most cases after discussing my life experiences with them they felt more relaxed to tell me theirs, and realised I was not that powerful at all. Nonetheless, to alleviate how uncomfortable that perceived position was, I was happy to oblige most requests for financial compensation for conducting interviews with the women ex-combatants. My initial interview with a group of women ex-combatants held at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) offices in Belgravia, Harare, was met with a request to pay for their travelling and food expenses. Although I did not have additional funding from my university to pay for interviews and research assistants, and knowing that some researchers do not consider it ethical to pay for interviews, I was happy to oblige, simply because my scholarship was obviously larger than their incomes, and these women had come out of their way to meet me and talk to me. In this sense I felt I was in a position of financial power because I could choose to pay them. During the follow up individual interviews I also paid the women according to their need. For example, one woman who drove me out to Chitungwiza for an interview did not ask for any money but I paid her for petrol and supplied the cokes. Another woman needed a bus fare to return to her rural home after the interview, so I paid that amount. I did not pay the women who were obviously well off and in business, part of the middle-classes, as this would have been insulting to them. Although, one woman NGO worker insisted on payment for her interview, since she was often being interviewed about her role in the struggle. I was able to give each woman I interviewed a copy of the book Mothers of the Revolution, thanks to Baobab Books, Harare.

Nzenza asks however,

How does one convince African women who are subject to a foreign study that in fact as women, we are all the same despite racial and cultural differences? This is not a simple solution, and I do not believe there is one. 30

With this in mind, I knew from the outset that although we might share similar biology, in every other way we were all different people. The ideal of an international sisterhood has long faded in feminist politics. To connect to these women as a woman was difficult. They had fought in a liberation war, given birth on the frontlines, raised children, married, divorced, suffered unspeakable amounts of poverty, challenged the status quo and fought for their rights as women, and as black Zimbabweans. I, on the other hand, have never lived through a war, or given birth yet, or suffered too much.

When I attempted to live as they live, that is I did not want to appear to be too different, they would not allow it. For example, the women insisted I should not ride the local "ETs" (Emergency Taxis) and walk around high density suburbs looking for their houses. Instead a woman with a car offered to drive me door to door. While I appreciated their concern, I was embarrassed because I thought they would think I would not want to be subjected to at least some of their daily burdens (eg. being crammed into the back of a dilapidated Peugeot with 10 people on a 45 C day). After the first interview however, I did arrive by ET, which actually impressed them. Some of the women tried to keep me different - in the stereotype of white woman - (where was my 4wheel drive?) - I tried to challenge their image of me as best I could, by telling them I did not even own a car in Adelaide. However, I admit that I did get lost on a few occassions and without the encouragement of one American PhD student, I might have cancelled appointments on more than one occassion.

Nonetheless, to take into account all of the postcolonial considerations of identity and the politics of your own position as outlined above, does not automatically remove you from the colonial inspired discourses which remain evident in some "women and/in development" theories. Jayati Lal has suggested some strategies to deal with this dilemma in doing feminist fieldwork. Similarly to Nzenza, Lal asks "what are the implications [of the researcher's identity] for the politics of field based research?". 31 She realises for herself that her "identity and notions of self influenced [her] choices, access, and procedures in research and also permeate the representation of research subjects in [her] writing". 32 Lal warns us as feminist, women's studies scholars, not to simply pay lip service to our positionings. She argues that there is a

trend for women's studies scholars to make obligatory pronouncements of their positioning into the analysis without ever actually contending with their differences in the analysis, toward a mere invoking of what has been called the "mantra" of self-positioning vis-à-vis the axes of race-sex-class-sexuality. This lip service to difference does not inform an assessment of how such positionings are implicated in one's analysis, and as such it is a politically disengaged response. 33

Thus we need to offer a politically engaged response to our research subject. We cannot just assume that by saying "I know I'm in an position of power compared to 'them'", that it will alleviate the problems of difference. However, it is a good start.

The other category within the African/Western feminist debate which is of concern here, comes from the perspective of western women who spend much of their research time in Africa, thinking about and researching on particularly women's issues, and then claiming an authoritative voice on African women's needs, especially within the discourse of "women and development" (ie policy formulation). Hence, she is speaking on behalf of the African woman based on her privileged position. Even if she takes her position into account she concludes it is better to speak for, rather than to ignore. In this way for example, it could be possible to aim to contribute to the fight against Third World women's oppressions by channelling international development assistance to women's needs and concerns in Africa.

However, is this still buying into colonial discourse? As an example, in the Women In Development discourse it is argued, "is the dominant discourse about 'women' and/or gender in African countries, and other perspectives find it increasingly difficult to be heard or to get funding". 34 Women In Development experts and discourse often inadvertently merge with such colonial inspired discourses: As Sylvester has argued, "WID has flown to Africa in non-world-traveler class and is now sympathetically but not emphathetically located there". 35 She recognises that most WID experts are indigenous women now, but it remains the women in the west who control or monopolise the "global funding and resources such as publications and consultancy work". 36 Although my research does not attempt to be included in a WID approach to gender in Africa, it does serve to remind us how feminist theories can become hegemonic in their efforts to highlight resistance. How can we avoid locating ourselves within theories such as WID, without cancelling our travel plans for fieldwork?

When I began interviewing women ex-combatants in Harare for my PhD research, my aim was to get a better understanding of what the liberation war meant to them, how they fought differently to men and how they represent themselves now especially in their roles as "guerrilla girls". What I found instead was that most of the women were more concerned with getting access to finance, grants, funding, rehabilitation schemes and compensation for their liberation war activities, rather than worried about how they have been and are being represented in the mass media, novels or by academics discussing their plight and experiences. Just as Nzenza has argued, it is clear "that while the Western feminist is concerned with the oppression of African women, they are much more concerned with the urgent needs of day-to-day living". 37 Should I then become inadvertently a WID specialist in order to secure some funding opportunities for them. If it is a question of priority, whose priority counts and what are the possibilities?

In my case, a spokeswoman from the ZNLWVA emphasised to me the importance for them of getting donor funding for small and large scale rehabilitation schemes, and she hoped that my research and interviews would enable this to eventuate. After explaining that my research was academically based and that it was unlikely it would change Ausaid's funding policies in the immediate future, given that Africa in general is not a priority case for Australian development assistance, she seemed nonetheless hopeful. She reminded me not to raise the expectations of these women ex-combatants because they were already suffering. 38

Hence, the question of representation, and even the 'politics of identity' from a postcolonial perspective might seem irrelevant to these women. However, to justify my academic research, is it possible that Zimbabwean women might find an answer to their current political, social and economic crises within an analysis of representations of women in the discourse of war? There is no simple answer to this question here. However, since my initial research in Zimbabwe during 1996, there has been some major developments in the political representation of ex-combatants in Zimbabwe, including the political consciousness raising of ex-mujibas and chimbwidos (young men and women who supported the guerrilla fighters in the rural areas), arguing for compensation for their war efforts. They have not yet succeeded but various groups across the country are beginning to realise that it was not just the male guerrilla fighters who deserve compensation. The mothers of the revolution have long been demanding recognition but have seen only token thanks.

In the process of looking for an answer it is hoped that at least women's history in Zimbabwe will be told. Again however, we are faced with certain dilemmas. Susan Geiger among many feminist scholars has highlighted the importance of oral histories in the telling of important historical events. 39 History from a gendered perspective often reveals the exclusion of women's lives and history. Simply, the voices of Zimbabwean women have not been considered as important as men's to the dominant history texts. To many extents the women's voices have been lost to history: gathering dust on shelves deemed irrelevant to the wider political debate. The feminist researcher then, can justifiably collect the oral histories either from previous documentation or fresh sources, and centralise them in the discourse of war.

Yet, Lal is "uneasy" about using the voices of the subject to "buttress" sociological or political arguments. She wonders,

to what extent such a narrative serves to whet the readers' or audiences' desire to know, and the narrators need to prove, that one really was "There!". In a reflexive mode, there is thus always a danger that "the people studied are treated as garnishes and condiments, tasty only in relationship to the main course, the sociologist [in my case the political scientist]". 40

The present author has no desire to be anyone's "main course", but is nonetheless also uncomfortable about using the voices of women ex-combatants to explain an (often) western feminist fascination with African women warriors, which manifests itself here in a theory of representations, if it is only to be considered as a "garnish". This "bit on the side" approach to feminist fieldwork has been labelled "feminist tourism". 41 Sylvester has argued for example that if we become preoccupied with proving that we have been there and done that,

leaving us with baseball caps affixed with tourist decals -"I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with Tanzanian National Feminists"- ...[we will only end up with] exotic images appended to stationary self-traveling locked up safe from intrusive provincialisms. 42
This kind of travel or fieldwork only "encourages arrogant perceptions of others as having only the interests the traveler assigns". 43 The contradictions in feminist fieldwork emerge here since we cannot center the subject's voice to the exclusion of theory. Yet, it is only through theory, in particular a feminist theory, that their voices will be heard at all.

However, in using the voices of women to explain theory, we are not simply "capturing" the Other, as Lal explains "via new technologies of inscription: tapes, surveys, interviews, word processing". 44 Through being able to represent themselves within the research opportunity, the "research subject ... [can] shape their own self-representation". 45 That is, the researcher cannot begin to claim that she has total power over the researched. For example, they may decide to misrepresent their socio-economic situation or embellish the truth or their stories in some way. In my research in Zimbabwe for example, it became obvious that some women recreated their own histories by either not mentioning some painful aspects of the war, like being raped, and/or denying it happened to them. Lal argues that we need to take into account the agency of our research subjects since this kind of situation is mostly

underplayed ... in discussions about the politics of representation. The fact is that our subjects are often not just responding to our agendas and to our questions, but they are also engaged in actively shaping their presentations to suit their own agendas of how they wish to be represented.


This paper has questioned how any research on African women can be located without inadvertently becoming part of a new colonial discourse. Two perspectives within the African/Western feminist debate were raised, serving to polarise the locations where this present research on Zimbabwean women ex-combatants does not intend to be situated. The struggle for representations was outlined in an analysis of Desiree Lewis' opinion of Winnie Mandela-Madikezela, and it was concluded that it is important to weigh up not only the impact of the representations of the subject, but it is necessary to attempt to ask the subject what they think about it themselves. Thus it is explained why Zimbabwean women ex-combatants needed to be interviewed.

However, the dilemmas of doing feminist fieldwork arise at this juncture. With all due respect to the 'politics of identity', and our own locations within (academic) Africanist/feminist circles, it is possible to remain accountable to the academy and the research 'subject(s)'. This is achieved by creating "dialogue" and learning about "empathetic cooperation". It has been argued here that while the present research may be academically based, it is hoped that it may contribute to the wider debate of women and war in Africa, and specifically on the current position of women ex-combatants in Zimbawbe who have been disadvantaged (or advantaged!) economically, socially, and politically due to their roles in the liberation war. Without the feminist tools discussed by Nzenza, Sylvester and Lal, and without any sense of accountability to the subject, it might be necessary to 'stay at home', but with them it is possible to overcome the dilemmas of feminist fieldwork in Africa.


1. This paper was originally presented to the Postgraduate Workshop of the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP), September 1996, ANU, Canberra

2. See Gwendolyn Mikell, African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Su-Saharan Africa, Indiana: Indiana Uni Press, 1997.

3. See Christine Sylvester re "WID WAD GAD parade".

4. Linda Alcoff, "The Problem of Speaking for Others", Cultural Critique (Winter 1991-92), pp. 5-32.

5. Sekai Nzenza-Shand, "Women in Postcolonial Africa: Between African Men and Western Feminists", in Phillip Darby (ed), At The Edge of International Relations: Postcolonialism, Gender and Dependency, Pinter, London, 1997.

6. Christine Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", Signs, 20:4, Summer, 1995, pp.941-76.

7. Jayati Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", in Diane Wolf (ed) Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork, Westview Press, Colorado, 1996.

8. Desiree Lewis "Winnie Mandela: The Surveillance and Excess of 'Black Woman' as Signifier", in SAFERE, Vol.2, no.1, June 1996.

9. Lewis, "Winnie Mandela: The Surveillance and Excess of 'Black Woman' as Signifier", p.7.

10. Lewis, p.7.

11. Lewis, p.7.

12. The "None But Ourselves Oral History Project" by the Oral Tradition Association of Zimbabwe, housed in the National Archives of Zimbabwe is an important example, although none of the tapes have been transcribed. More recently the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association has begun a project getting women to write about their own experiences of the war. According to Irene Zindi, an ex-combatant and currently the Member of Parliament for Hatfield North, in 1994 she approached Virginia Phiri of the ZWW and suggested that they record women ex-combatants stories for a book. Since then the project has been slow to get off the ground, but is being supported by Irene Staunton at Baobab Books. See also Irene Staunton (ed), Mothers of the Revolution, Baobab Books, Harare, 1994.

13. This title is taken from Diane Wolf (ed) Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork, Westview Press, Colorado, 1996.

14. See Nira Yuval Davis, Gender and Nation, Sage, London, 1997, pp.119-120.

15. See Sekai Nzenza-Shand, Songs to an African Sunset: A Zimbabwean Story, Lonely Planet, Melbourne, 1997, pp.170-171.

16. Sekai Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", in Penny Van Toorn and David English (eds) Speaking Positions: Aboriginality, Gender and Ethnicity in Australian Cultural Studies, Department of Humanities, Victorian University of Technology, Melbourne, 1995, p.103.

17. Sekai Nzenza-Shand, "Women in Postcolonial Africa: Between African Men and Western Feminists", p.215.

18. Sekai Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", p.104.

19. Nzenza-Shand, "Women in Postcolonial Africa: Between African Men and Western Feminists", p.216.

20. Gayatri Spivak, "Can The Subaltern Speak?" in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, 1978.

21. Jayati Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", in Diane Wolf (ed) Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork, Westview Press, Colorado, 1996, p.200: citing Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges", in Feminist Studies, 14, 3, pp.575-599.

22. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.206: citing Marcus, 1994.

23. While it is not feasible to make a PhD thesis available for all of them to read, it is possible to present my work in Zimbabwe to groups of women interested in debating these particular issues. During my fieldwork I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to present a paper at the Feminist Studies Centre in Harare which created some contention, debate and even interest in the local newspaper The Herald. When the final draft is finished it will remain my responsibility to present it to similar audiences in Zimbabwe, and to make the manuscript available at the women's resource centres, the National Archives and the University of Zimbabwe library.

24. my emphasis. See Sekai Nzenza-Shand, Songs to an African Sunset: A Zimbabwean Story, Lonely Planet, Melbourne, 1997, p.171.

25. Sekai Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", pp.100-106.

26. Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", p.100

27. Tanya Lyons, The (Mis)Representations of Africa and the Politics of Gender, Unpublished Honours Thesis, department of Politics, University of Adelaide, 1994.

28. Lugones, 1990:396 cited in Christine Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", Signs, 20:4, Summer, 1995, p.954.

29. Alarcón, 1990:363, cited in Christine Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", Signs, 20:4, Summer, 1995, p.957.

30. Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", p.100.

31. Jayati Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.190.

32. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.190.

33. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.197.

34. Mbilinyi, 1993:47-48, cited in Christine Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", Signs, 20:4, Summer, 1995, p.956.

35. Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", p.956.

36. Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", p.956.

37. Nzenza, "Who should Speak For Whom? African Women and Western Feminism", p.102.

38. Interview with woman ex-combatant, anon, Harare, September 1996.

39. Susan Geiger "What is so Feminist about doing Women's Oral History?" in Cheryl Johnson-Odim and Margaret Strobel (ed) Expanding The Boundaries of Women's History: Essays on Women in the Third World, Indiana University Press, 1992.

40. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text",p.205.

41. Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", p.945.

42. Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", p.945.

43. Sylvester, "Africa and Western Feminisms: World Traveling the Tendencies and Possibilities", p.945.

44. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.204.

45. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.204.

46. Lal, "Situating Locations: The Politics of Self, Identity, and "Other", in Living and Writing the Text", p.204.

Back to top


Outskirts online journal

This Page

Last updated:
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 11:39 AM