Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass

Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass : Gender and Colonialism in a Yoruba Town

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Lorelle D. Semley explores the historical and political meanings of motherhood in West Africa and beyond, showing that the roles of women were far more complicated than previously thought. While in Ketu, Benin, Semley discovered that women were treasurers, advisors, ritual specialists, and colonial agents in addition to their more familiar roles as queens, wives, and sisters. These women with special influence made it difficult for the French and others to enforce an ideal of subordinate women. As she traces how women gained prominence, Semley makes clear why powerful mother figures still exist in the symbols and rituals of everyday more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 17.78mm | 362.87g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 9 b&w illus., 2 maps
  • 0253222532
  • 9780253222534
  • 2,034,895

Review quote

Semley provides historical depth and historiographical sophistication to this study of Yoruba women in West Africa and the Atlantic World. * International Journal of African Historical Studies * 'Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass' is a wonderful contribution to the literature on gender, African women, French colonialism, and the African diaspora.December 2012 * H-Africa * Lorelle Semley's engaging study of the historical and symbolic power of motherhood (and fatherhood) in Ketu, a Yoruba town in the Republic of Benin, makes an important contribution to the study of gender and power in the Atlantic 2013 * Africa * Semley's work is a welcome addition to a growing literature on gender and the European encounter with African societies. September 2011 * Choice * By excavating [the] ambiguous, shifting space between the rhetoric of Yoruba women's power as queens and mothers, and the realities of women's vulnerability and subordination as wives and slaves, Semley's Mother Is Gold, Father Is Glass makes an original and important contribution to women's history generally and to Yoruba history specifically.54.2 July 2013 * Journal of African History * [T]his is an engaging and informative book for scholars interested in African history and gender. * African Studies Quarterly *show more

About Lorelle D. Semley

Lorelle D. Semley is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and she is a contributor to Crossing Memories: Slavery and African Diaspora (forthcoming).show more

Table of contents

Preface. "You Must Be From Here": An Intellectual and Personal JourneyAcknowledgmentsNote on Orthography and LanguagePrologue. "Mother is gold, father is glass": Power and Vulnerability in Atlantic Africa1. Founding Fathers and Metaphorical Mothers: History, Myth, and the Making of a Kingdom2. How Kings Lost Their Mothers: Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade3. Giving Away Ketu's Secret: Wives on the Eve of War4. "Where women really matter": The "Queens" of Ketu and the Challenge to French Imperialism5. "Without family... there is no true colonization": Perspectives on Marriage6. "The Opening of the Eyes": The Politics of Manhood on the Eve of Independence7. Mothers and Fathers of an Atlantic WorldEpilogue. A Rebirth of "Public Mothers" and KingsEssay on Sources and MethodologyNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

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