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Fighting for the Rain Forest: The Gendering of Ethnicity, Ethno-Ritual Beliefs, and Wartime Relationships in the Warscapes of Northern Liberia

John Idriss Lahai


This study presents a gender-centric analysis of the influences of ethnic identity and ethno-ritual belief systems on war and gender relations within the war zones of northern Liberia. It presents a de-constructionist analysis of the nature of ritual practices and the patterns of affinal gender relations in building communal “orderâ€â€” and during the war, in shaping the character of the conflict and its impact on women. It concludes that the ethnic question to the war is best understood with reference to women’s position in rural Liberia before and during the war. It contends that the ways in which women were positioned, and perceived by the male fighters, demonstrate that the women who were associated with these factions, were merely instruments used to further the patriarchal nature of the factions; and thereby sustain the pre-war status quo that promotes “male power.â€


Liberian War; Ethnic Identity, Warscapes, Women, Fighters

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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