including institutions such as the division of labor, the family, and marriage patterns. The term also includes ways of thinking about social institutions as well as the practices which reproduce and sometimes transform
these. Following Raymond Williams ( 1977), authoritative discourse is a set
of practices and the ideology that reproduces those practices.
The quantitative data on which much of the following discussion is based
were obtained from a survey of 72 households in eight Nso villages in 1981. The information is supplemented by observations and interviews
with Nso farmers and bureaucrats over a two-year period ( 1979-81) of
fieldwork in Nso and from two months of fieldwork in the summer of 1988. The survey included information on land access, nutrition, marketing opportunity, and production choice ( Goheen 1984 and 1988a).
When in Nso, I questioned the District Officer as to why women had not
been granted land within the Young Farmers' Resettlement Program since
they are obviously the primary food farmers. The DO replied, "Well, you
see, this program is designed to keep young families in the countryside and
of course no self-respecting man would want to move to his wife's farm."
'Whether or not this is true is an empirical question but ideologically it has
served to keep women from acquiring land through government development programs in Nso. Another example: A very well educated Cameroonian man from the Grassfields region questioned me as to what I meant
when I asserted that women were often discriminated against in national
development programs. I pointed out that women had great difficulty getting access to land and therefore were precluded from participation in the
Young Farmers' Resettlement Program or effectively from acquiring
national land under development projects in general. He said, "Oh, well,
land--of course you cannot be giving women land: it would destroy our
whole social system!"
Ariza-Nino Edgar M. Goheen-Fjellman, and
1982 Consumption Effects of Agricultural Policies: Cameroon and Senegal,
Center for Research on Economic Development, University of
1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University
1989 Engendering Adjustment for the 1990s. London: Marlborough
1988 Women, Land, and Agriculture: The African Experience. Boulder: Westview Press.
1971 L'Ordre du Discourse. Paris: Galliuard.