Ideologies and the Construction of Class Amongst African Women in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1930-1960

Barnes, Terri
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In order to extend the range of studies of wonen, class and ideology in southern Africa,2 this paper attempts to disaggregate the nass of African wonen who lived in colonial Harare (Salisbury) and other Southern Rhodesian towns by the 1950s.3 Two nain argunents will be advanced. First, disaggregation is best attempted in terns of class analysis. Because the situation of urban African populations in the period under review does not precisely natch the classis categories of class analysis, however, an additional concept will be utilized in one case:4 being "well-known" will be used to flesh out the neaning of belonging to the snail petty-bourgeoisie of urban communities. Secondly, the erection of a class structure amongst African women is then examined in terms of the beliefs that were held at the state and connunity levels about the proper place of wonen in urban society. These beliefs are terned ideologies, and it will be shown that domesticity and dependence were tha cornerstones of acceptable fenale behaviour. Two aspects of the paper are initially explained. First, I think it is insufficient to automatically assign women to the class of their nale relatives, and so it is necessary to consider other factors when trying to analyze class positions amongst women. Secondly, the basis for class differentiation between urban population groups in a settler-dominated political economy was ownership of or access to land, the urban expression of which was housing.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 30 March 1992
Women. Zimbabwe