Gender and Space

Authored by: Susan Rasmussen

The Ashgate Research Companion to Anthropology

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677031
eBook ISBN: 9781315612744
Adobe ISBN: 9781317044116

10.4324/9781315612744.ch10

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Abstract

One striking memory from my early field research in a rural Saharan, then semi-nomadic Tuareg community was the sound, during late night visits, of women weaving strips of palm-fiber for their tent construction and repair, often accompanied by their telling of tales depicting female founding ancestral culture-heroes. At that time, both men and women visited freely outside households, and attended late-night musical concerts together, only avoiding certain places haunted by spirits of the wild, such as tombs on roads connecting villages and camps. I also recall being startled by many unexpected visitors casually wandering into fenced circular compounds surrounding tents. Later, household compounds became enclosed by solid mud walls, often surrounding both the female-owned tent and the male-owned house, and visitors were expected to clap their hands once, or greet, to gain entry. In sedentarized and urban centers, gendered spaces are now even more contained: walls tend to be higher, metal doors stronger, men and women usually depart for musical concerts separately in gender-based groups, and visit at different times: women in the afternoon and men at night.

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