Male Daughters, Female Husbands

Gender and Sex in an African Society

Ifi Amadiume
With a Foreword by Pat Caplan


An early study of queer theory and non-Western feminism, challenging the concept of gender.
In 1987, more than a decade before the dawn of queer theory, Ifi Amadiume wrote Male Daughters, Female Husbands, to critical acclaim.

This compelling and highly original book frees the subject position of 'husband' from its affiliation with men, and goes on to do the same for other masculine attributes, dislocating sex, gender and sexual orientation. Boldly arguing that the notion of gender, as constructed in Western feminist discourse, did not exist in Africa before the colonial imposition of a dichotomous understanding of sexual difference, Male Daughters, Female Husbands examines the structures in African society that enabled people to achieve power, showing that roles were not rigidly masculinized nor feminized.

At a time when gender and queer theory are viewed by some as being stuck in an identity-politics rut, this outstanding study not only warns against the danger of projecting a very specific, Western notion of difference onto other cultures, but calls us to question the very concept of gender itself.

Author Bio

Ifi Amadiume is an award-winning Nigerian poet, anthropologist and essayist. She is associate professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword to the Critique Influence Change Edition
  • Preface to the Critique Influence Change Edition
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Part I: The 19th Century
    • 1. Gender and Economy
    • 2. Women, Wealth, Titles and power
    • 3. Gender and Political Organization
    • 4. The Politics of Motherhood: Women and the Ideology-Making Process
    • 5. The Ideology of Gender
    • 6. Ritual and Gender
  • Part II: The Colonial Period
    • 7. Colonialism and the Erosion of Women's Power
    • 8. The Erosion of Women's Power
  • Part III: The Post-Independence Period
    • 9. The Marginalisation of women's Position
    • 10. Wealth, Titles and Motherhood
    • 11. The Female Element in Other Igbo Societies
    • 12. Gender, Class and Female Solidarity
    • 13. Conclusion
  • Appendixes
  • Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Index


'A groundbreaking work in the study of gender in Africa. This new edition of Amadiume's magnum opus deserves to be widely read.'
J. Lorand Matory, Duke University

'A brilliant inspiration to open up gender theory to the originality of African philosophies of being, social life and power.'
Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University

'Required reading in a cross-cultural women's studies course... A book well researched, clearly written... that can be depended upon to provoke lively discussion.'

'Essential reading for anyone interested in fundamental thinking about the issues of gender and sex in pre-colonial societies.'
Guardian, Nigeria

'This is a text that should be read widely and includes women's studies, social sciences and history. It will surely be an important statement in the catalogue of anti-colonialist historiography.'
West Africa

'Meticulously researched... An extremely important contribution.'


Publication Date: 12 March 2015
248 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783603329
eBook ePub: 9781783603343
eBook PDF: 9781783603336
eBook Kindle: 9781783603350
Library Edition: 9780862325947

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