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Grant number: RZ-20747-01

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Pennsylvania State University, Main Campus (University Park, PA 16802-7000)
Thomas A. Hale (Project Director: September 2000 to present)

Women's Voices from West Africa

To support the collection and analysis of praise songs, epics, and other poetic forms sung by women in the West African Sahel and Savanna regions to gain a better understanding of how this verbal tradition enables women to contribute to public and private discourse in West African society.

Ethics and gender stereotyping along with a lack of understanding of non-Western languages have contributed historically to a distorted view of women in societies outside the West, especially in Africa. In the Sahel and Savanna region of West Africa, Islam and colonialism have exacerbated the problem by muting women's voices. But recent research on women's songs from this region reveals that females have a powerful voice in songs performed in African languages and in a variety of contexts, public and private. The purpose here is to bring together fifteen researchers on women's songs in order to synthesize and diffuse information that will change our understanding of women in West Africa. The outcomes will contribute to a developing global awareness of how gender is often interpreted differently in societies outside the West.

Project fields:
African Literature

Collaborative Research

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$150,000 (approved)
$150,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2001 – 5/31/2007