"When there is a problem, people take us women for complaining" - Female claim-making in Kankan, Guinea
Carole Ammann (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Women in Muslim Kankan, Guinea’s second largest city, voice their claims in manifold ways. These political articulations range from invisible influence within the ‘traditional’ political sphere to marching on the streets – when the social, political and economic stakes are especially high.
Paper long abstract:
Women in Muslim Kankan, Guinea's second largest city, voice their claims in manifold ways. These political articulations range from invisible influence within the 'traditional' political sphere to marching on the streets - when the social, political and economic stakes are especially high. In this anthropological contribution, based on one year of fieldwork, I analyse the everyday shaping of statehood by focussing on women's claim-making and their encounters and bargaining with representatives of the local government. I illustrate why and when women, differentiated along age, ethnic, educational and occupational lines, choose which form of political articulation by drawing on three case studies: First, I describe how widows, by forming a passive network, claim their widow's pensions. Second, I explain what enabled Madame Kanté, a well-connected elderly woman who works within 'civil society' as well as for the local administration, to release a prisoner without respecting local hierarchies and without paying any bribes. Finally, I elaborate on why women's presence within youth's protests gave the latter more legitimacy which then caused the local government to take their concerns more seriously. In brief, I analyse how women in Kankan evaluate their individual and collective political articulations as well as the outcomes. Further, I discuss when and why their actions enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of other men and women. I argue that Kankan's women know when best to apply which mode of claim-making within the local patriarchal structures.
Popular claim-making, public authority and governance in urban Africa