Women's collective economic strategies and political transformation in rural South Africa

Authors: Oberhauser, Ann; Pratt, Amy

Source: Gender, Place and Culture - A Journal of Feminist Geography, Volume 11, Number 2, June 2004 , pp. 209-228(20)

Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group

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This article examines the economic processes and socio-political institutions that shape women's involvement in community projects. Feminist materialism and postcolonial theory provide the framework to analyze these livelihood strategies as they are grounded in the material conditions of women's lives. The empirical study is based in a rural northern province of South Africa where colonialism and apartheid have contributed to extreme economic and social hardships. Fieldwork was conducted in Limpopo to analyze how community projects contribute to livelihood strategies. In an area where migrant remittances remain one of the main sources of income for rural households, women have increasingly engaged in collective economic strategies such as pottery making, sewing, and agricultural production. These strategies are embedded in a complex set of patriarchal institutions that reinforce unequal access to resources and have historically marginalized rural black women. Despite these barriers, findings from this study demonstrate that community projects provide the potential for economic and social empowerment, especially among rural women.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0966369042000218464

Affiliations: Department of Geology and Geography West Virginia University Morgantown WV USA

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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