University of Rochester Press celebrates Women’s History Month!

University of Rochester Press celebrates Women’s History Month with five featured titles that reflect the rich diversity of African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies.  These five books all either by or about women encompass Africa, North America, and the Caribbean, and span more than two thousand years.  So, whether your interest is in pre-colonial Africa or post-reconstruction of the American South, nineteenth-century Cuban patriarchy or twentieth-century Kenyan nationalism, our URP authors have ground-breaking studies for you to discover.

Honor women who made history and women who write it with URP this March!

An Architecture of Education

African American Women Design the New South

by Angel David Nieves

Post-Civil War African American women living in the nadir of Jim Crow engaged in race uplift by building industrial and normal schools and, in the process, memorializing the trauma and struggle of a people. In An Architecture of Education author Angel David Nieves examines material culture and the act of institution creation itself, especially as embodied in architecture and landscape, to recount a deeper history of the lives and community building of former slaves and working-class African American women — social groups typically overlooked by historians of prosperous clubwomen, writers, and other African American elites.

The Power of the Oath

Mau Mau Nationalism in Kenya, 1952-1960

by Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Through a critical examination of the Mau Mau oath used to initiate and unite fighters, The Power of the Oath argues for a historiographical shift in the framing of the Mau Mau rebellion as a Kikuyu war. Instead, Mickie Mwanzia Koster suggests that Mau Mau was a nationalist movement. Mwanzia Koster traces the evolution and structure of the Mau Mau oath, examining the British criminalization of the oath, its gendered use, and the purification associated with it, in order to reveal how Mau Mau unfolded in Kenya.

Women’s Authority and Society in Early East-Central Africa

by Christine Saidi

This study of more than two thousand years of African social history weaves together evidence from historical linguistics, archaeology, comparative ethnography, oral tradition, and art history to challenge the assumptions that all African societies were patriarchal and that the status of women in precolonial Africa is beyond the scope of historical research. In East-Central Africa, women played key roles in technological and economic developments during the long precolonial period. Female political leaders were as common as male rulers, and women, especially mothers, were central to religious ceremonies and beliefs. These conclusions contribute a new and critical element to our understanding of Africa’s precolonial history.

The Politics of Chieftaincy

Authority and Property in Colonial Ghana, 1920-1950

by Naaborko Sackeyfio-Lenoch

When Accra became the British colonial capital of the Gold Coast in the late nineteenth century, the political and economic lives of its residents were dramatically transformed. Disputes over political authority and land coalesced, leading to the reconstitution of chieftaincy and land affairs. Important chiefs were removed from office, succession to office was more contested than ever, and disputes over control and sale of land grew dramatically. The Politics of Chieftaincy documents this transformative era in colonial Ghana’s history by highlighting the impact of urban and colonial processes in an African port town.

Women and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Colonial Cuba

by Sarah L. Franklin

Based on a variety of archival and printed primary sources, this book examines how patriarchy functioned outside the confines of the family unit by scrutinizing the foundation on which nineteenth-century Cuban patriarchy rested. This book investigates how patriarchy operated in the lives of the women of Cuba, from elite women to slaves. Through chapters on motherhood, marriage, education, public charity, and the sale of slaves, insight is gained into the role of patriarchy both as a guiding ideology and lived history in the Caribbean’s longest lasting slave society.