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Historia

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Abstract

PIETERSE, Jimmy. Trickster tropes: female storytelling and the re-imagination of social orders in four nineteenth-century southern African communities. Historia [online]. 2010, vol.55, n.1, pp. 55-77. ISSN 0018-229X.

Women in nineteenth century southern Africa used storytelling, especially tales in which tricksters were the central characters, in order to make sense of -and often to critique -rapidly changing social and political orders. The stories they told constitute an underutilised historical source. This article draws from four anthologies compiled by men engaged in missionary endeavours in the region to explore these points. I argue that these tales complicate our understanding of ethnic and gendered identity construction during the period and promise to cast new light on contemporary understandings of social reproduction, especially during times of societal upheaval.

Keywords : Folktales; tricksters; cannibalism; women; gender; ethnicity; nineteenth century; southern Africa; social reproduction; kinship; oral narrative; isiZulu; isiXhosa; Baronga; BaSotho.

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