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La Révolte des Femmes: Economic Upheaval and the Gender of Political Authority in Lomé, Togo, 1931–33

  • Benjamin N. Lawrance
Abstract:

In 1932 the governor of French Togoland announced an increase in taxes on Lomé market women because of the economic downturn caused by the Depression. Both the indigenous city council and a clandestine resistance movement opposed this fiscal plan, warning of social unrest. The strain triggered a protest by market women that spread beyond the colonial capital. This article offers a new explanation of the explosive tension by arguing that an organized male political campaign conjoined with a socioeconomic protest led by market women. It explores women's resistance as a performance of vodou ritual as a vehicle of shame and protest. Ultimately the violent, culturally marked protests marked the gendered perimeters of political authority for both Ewe women and men and further defined Ewe market women's conception of an Ewe self and the emergence of conflicting and contested notions of “Eweness” as a prelude to the independence struggle.

Résumé:

En 1932 le gouverneur du Togo français annonça une hausse des impôts sur les femmes du marché de Lomé à la suite de la récession économique provoquée par la Dépression. Ce plan fiscal fut contesté à la fois par le conseil indigène de la ville et par un mouvement de résistance clandestin, qui menacèrent les autorités de conflits sociaux. Cette tension entraîna chez les femmes du marché une manifestation qui s'étendit au delà de la capitale coloniale. Cet article propose une nouvelle explication à cette tension explosive en soutenant qu'une campagne politique organisée et composée d'hommes s'unit à la manifestation socio-économique menée par les femmes du marché. Cet article examine la résistance des femmes en tant que performance de rituel vaudou comme véhicule de honte et de protestation. En fin de compte, ces manifestations violentes et marquées culturellement définirent les périmètres sexués de l'autorité politique, à la fois pour les femmes et pour les hommes Ewe, et contribuèrent à définir plus précisément la conception par les femmes du marché Ewe d'une identité Ewe, ainsi que l'émergence de notions conflictuelles et contestées d' «Ew-esse» en tant que prélude à la lutte pour l'indépendance.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
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