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When the smith is a woman: Innovation, improvisation and ambiguity in the organisation of African iron metallurgy
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology. Uppsala University.
Central European University.
University of Zimbabwe.
University of Cape Town.
2017 (English)In: Archives, Objects, Places and Landscapes: Multidisciplinary approaches to Decolonised Zimbabwean pasts / [ed] Manyanga, M and Chirikure, S., Bamenda: Langaa RPCIG , 2017, 295-318 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Archaeologists are accustomed to the idea that metallurgy is the domain of men. Anything outside this framework in the recent and distant past has always been considered an exception. This article exposes such an exception among the Murazvo family where, in defiance of the male norm, the chief smith is a woman who performs several livelihood crafts. Circumstances have made her the focal person entrusted with the task of passing on the smithing and several other categories of technology in the family, bequeathing them to her sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. This case goes against most stereotypes in iron working. It challenges the received thinking in ascribing gender roles to metallurgy, as well as other categories of technology and expertise in the past. The chapter brings forth a discussion of the complexity and ambiguity of social relations in technology, and the tendency for the politics of inclusion and exclusion on gender and age axes to shift and become more tenuous. The aim is to foreground especially the world of women as innovative members of past and contemporary societal structures, whose co-authorship of our human past and present, together with men, is not just in procreation, but is daily enacted in many different spheres of life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bamenda: Langaa RPCIG , 2017. 295-318 p.
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-334792ISBN: 9956764191 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-334792DiVA: diva2:1160685
Available from: 2017-11-28 Created: 2017-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05
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