African Encounters with Domesticity

By Karen Tranberg Hansen | Go to book overview

child-care centers and targeting certain population groups. Working mothers have been recognized and supported by the Mozambican government, yet the primary assumption of women as mothers has been reinforced by that same recognition and support. Despite the intervention of the state into a previously private and domestic sector of women's labor, the work of caring for children has not become work for both men and women. Women remain the primary caretakers, and continue to identify themselves and to be socially identified as mothers, reinforcing the connection between women's responsibilities and domesticity.


Acknowledgments

This paper is dedicated to the titias (literally "aunties," an affectionate term for preschool teachers) in the 1∘ de Junho and 1∘ de Maio child-care centers in Beira, Mozambique, who cared for my daughter Mercie; and to the wonderful infant care providers and preschool teachers who have made my own work possible by caring for Mercie and my son Ben.

My research on this topic included informal observation and participation as a parent at two centers, visits to several child-care centers on a more formal basis, and interviews with nearly sixty working women in Beira. The interviews questioned women about their work histories and family responsibilities, the intersection of these two areas of women's lives, and changes in women's situation from the period of Portuguese colonialism to the current government. Children and child-care issues made up a significant part of the interviews ( Sheldon 1988).

I have benefited from comments on various drafts from Karen Tranberg Hansen, Jeanne Penvenne, and Steve Trazynski, and from my colleagues in the Affiliated Scholars Program at UCLA's Center for the Study of Women, especially Jaclyn Greenberg, Margaret Rose, and Kiren Ghei. An earlier version was presented at the Eighth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, June 1990, Rutgers University, New Jersey.


Bibliography

Acordo de Cooperação na Area Social, RENAB, E.E. "Creche" 1 de Junho. 1983. Typescript, Beira.

As Alunas da Escola de Habilitação de Professoras. 1962. Voz Africana 29 (June 2): 8-9.

Brydon, Lynne, and Sylvia Chant, 1989. Women in the Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Areas. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Cock, Jacklyn, and Erica Emdon. 1987. "Let Me Make History Please":

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