Authority, avoidances and marriage : an analysis of the position of Gcaleka women in Qwaninga, Willowvale district, Transkei

Liebenberg, Alida (1994) Authority, avoidances and marriage : an analysis of the position of Gcaleka women in Qwaninga, Willowvale district, Transkei. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Authority as it operates in the daily lives of married women in Gcaleka society is reinforced and maintained by a body of avoidances which women need to observe during their married lives. Avoidances constitute part of the control system in the society whereby wives are being 'kept in their place'. Avoidances do not only restrict her, but also safeguard her position and her interests. Lines of authority emerge through the process of interaction; the structure reveals itself as avoidances are acted out in time and space. This study was conducted in Qwaninga, an administrative area in the coastal area of the Willowvale district, Transkei. The research started out as a study of ritual impurity and the status of women in a traditional, 'red' Gcaleka society. It soon became clear that pollution practices and beliefs associated with women form part of a greater body of avoidances which women need to observe during their married lives. Avoidances entail economic, dietary, sexual, linguistic and spatial prohibitions; as well as restrictions concerning what a woman is supposed to wear, and her withdrawal from social life. These restrictions are enforced through certain ritual and other sanctions. Three forms of avoidances are identified in this study, and are discussed and analysed. Avoidances are found in the everyday male/female division in society; in the ways through which the wife shows respect towards her husband and her in-laws (especially her husband's ancestors); and in the reproductive situations a woman finds herself in from time to time. In many anthropological studies in the past women have often been hidden in the background. This study is an attempt to give women the prominence they should be given, to show that nonwestern women are not as subordinated as people in Western society like to assume. In Gcaleka society the authority structure affecting the position of women is not only based on a distinction being made between males and females. It will be shown that a finer authority structure operates in this society whereby gender as well as age and kinship distinctions are being made. These distinctions constitute a system of classification which is safeguarded and protected by the avoidances and other restrictions imposed on women.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Married women, Females, Males, Authority, Gcaleka, Qwaninga, Transkei, South Africa, Avoidances, Control system, Beliefs, Pollution, Practices, Prohibitions, Respect, Ancestors, Gender, Age, Kinship
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Anthropology
Supervisors:Palmer, Robin
ID Code:3919
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:02 Nov 2012 06:13
Last Modified:02 Nov 2012 06:13
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