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Presented By: Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies

EIHS Lecture: Speak Politely to the Ancestors: Gender and Moral Community in Southeastern Africa's Second Millennium CE

Raevin Jimenez (University of Michigan)

Raevin Jimenez Raevin Jimenez
Raevin Jimenez
In the ninth-century South African Highveld, Nguni-speakers lost their ancestors. They would spend nearly a millennium seeking new ones and appeasing them by teaching young men and women to speak and act with modesty. As they did, Nguni-speakers crafted an evolving politics of gender in which the ability to behave politely brought social connections and economic opportunities. Against European and African accounts that reduce modesty to a lever for women’s oppression, this talk asks what happens to our understanding of power and alterity when men and women perform gender in the same way, and when some cannot perform gender at all.

Raevin Jimenez is an assistant professor of history at the University of Michigan. Professor Jimenez specializes in the interdisciplinary study of Africa’s distant past with an emphasis on language, orality, and materiality. Her current work traces the role of gender as concept and practice across the precolonial history of South Africa.

This event presented by the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.

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