Gender, Identity, and Power in Acoli Song Performances


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




Acoli women in contemporary society, though disadvantaged, are certainly not powerless in the complex gender power relations matrix. Women exercise agency and power with regard to their male counterparts in society, patriarchal structures and ideologies notwithstanding. This project analyzes gender identity construction and the forms and sites of power enactment, as they are mediated through the expressive economy of songs. The research therefore readdresses some of the theoretical shortcoming that, collusively, negatively portray gender differentiation. The work seeks to reorient attention, highlighting ways in which gender differentiation is harnessed as a resource. The project also analyzes how Acoli females use traditional notions of gender to negotiate public and personal concerns through song performances.