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Title: Marriage, power and performativity : theorising gender relations in rural northern Ghana
Author: Akurugu, Constance Awinpoka
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 3171
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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Most studies on gendered relations of power in Ghana have focused on formal and policy issues such as gender parity in education and political representation. Where attention has been paid to marriage relations, it has often been fragmentary, centering on, for instance, male spousal violence or inheritance patterns, rather than targeting holistically the socio-cultural dynamics that engender and reproduce unequal power relations and violence against women. This study directly addresses this deficit. This thesis develops a poststructuralist feminist framework to analyse the rules and expectations of normative gendered behaviour in Ghanaian marriage practices. I pay particular attention to how such gendered norms within this exogamous society are accepted, re-enacted, and/or challenged. Theories of gender performativity have been mainly employed to address relations of heteronormativity and heteropatriarchy and the violence they exact on non-heterosexual subjectivities in European and North American contexts. I deploy these theories to make sense of heterosexual marriage relations in Ghana. I explore Dagaaba norms regarding femininities and masculinities and the violence that they engender for women in marriage. I employed a feminist ethnographic methodology to study the daily life and ritual performances in a Dagaaba village called Serekpere, north-west Ghana. This thesis illustrates that theories of gender performativity resonate profoundly with Dagaaba marriage practices, as well as with their conceptions of femininity: the Dagaaba notion of femininity is contingent upon discursive practices and the performance of gender-segregated roles within marriage. More specifically, I argue that femininity in this context can be understood as forming a continuum, namely: ‘ideal woman’, ‘woman’ and ‘beyond woman’. On the basis of my analysis, I contend that women within Dagaaba marriage arrangements exercise agency and resistance in complex ways despite unambiguously representing themselves in public acts and discourses as vulnerable victims of male, exogamous and supernatural forces and violence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University for Development Studies ; Ghana Education Trust Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available