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“Women Must Not Become Lions”: Social Roles of Muslim Women in Kankan, Guinea

Carole Ammann


NGOs, but also journalists and scholars often generalize about gender relations in (African) Muslim societies, and their conclusions tend to be normative: either that women there will always be oppressed or they overemphasize changes over the last decades, for example, the emerging (Muslim) women’s movements. Both conclusions are simplistic. Muslim women’s social, political, religious, and economic roles differ, amongst others, according to their age, their educational, ethnic, and family background, not to mention their personal character. Thus, their situation differs significantly from place to place and varies across time. To emphasize the active engagement of Muslim women with others in the Guinean city of Kankan this article draws on Emirbayer and Mische’s (1998) definition of human agency as the outcome of an interplay between habit, imagination, and judgment. This analytical lens serves to shed light on particular gender relations and the shifts therein in a given context.


women; islam; agency; gender roles; social norms; marriage; livelihood

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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