African Women: A Political Ecomony by Meredeth Turshen (eds.)

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By Meredeth Turshen (eds.)

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The question of identity brings us full circle back to McFadden who decries the skillfully managed process of historical erasure, which has silenced and vilified radical voices in South Africa. The ruling classes (both white and black), she writes, have successfully manipulated identity, THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF WOMEN IN AFRICA 21 imposing neoliberal notions of nationhood. Like Alidou, McFadden points to political identity as a critical step in transforming consciousness. Did national liberation and the transition to socialism fail to transform women’s subordination?

A male chef employed in a restaurant, or a male laundry worker, both working outside the home and for a wage, are not necessarily considered to be doing women’s work. Third, as has already become clear, domestic service, especially in colonial societies, has a racial character. Almost everywhere in the world it is performed by socially inferior groups: immigrants, blacks, and ethnic minorities. In South Africa, from the turn of the century, household-based domestic service was above all a black institution, whether performed by men or women.

Our starting point of analysis of South African society is to pose questions about gender that make us think again about the dynamics of race and class. In turn we find that any serious analysis of class and race tends to dissolve the unity of gender. 36 GAITSKELL ET AL. Once we recognize the cultural and political complexity of gender, it becomes necessary to examine the limits of some of the concepts that Western feminists have developed for a materialist analysis of the ideology of femininity in the Western world.

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