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Writing White Women: Whiteness, Gender, Politics and Power in Rhodesia, c.1950s-1980s.

Law, Kate (2012) Writing White Women: Whiteness, Gender, Politics and Power in Rhodesia, c.1950s-1980s. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Although existing gender and empire scholarship has done much to (re) inscribe white colonial women into the narrative of the British Empire, little academic attention has been paid to the experiences of white women in Southern Africa. This thesis refocuses these debates by exploring the ‘voices’ of white Rhodesian women and argues the importance of a more nuanced and fine-grained analysis of the role of white women in the colonial enterprise. In the first instance this thesis recaptures important dimensions of the lives of white Rhodesian women from the period c. 1950s-1980s. In doing so it explores the development of political spaces in which white women operated, demonstrating the diversity and shifting notion of what was considered ‘political’ during this period. Challenging the entrenchment of the villain/victim binary that pervades much of the existing literature, it is argued that white women often held ambiguous and complicated attitudes towards race, gender and identity during this period. Whilst exploring the salience of patriarchal structures, this thesis also explores the contested nature of normative gender roles by focusing on the politicisation of domesticity. Through extended case studies of politically active liberal women, it also analyses the complex interactions of gendered identities and racial politics, mapping out a set of experiences which challenge the overwhelmingly androcentric formulation of white Rhodesian identity. In addition this thesis takes important steps towards historicising the development of whiteness in colonial Zimbabwe; in doing so it significantly modifies a number of historiographies, and opens up space for creating a more comprehensive history of white women in Africa.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Gender, Whiteness, Race, Power, Rhodesia, Domesticity, White Women
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Ms Kate Law
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2012 16:19
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2904

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