When men are women : manhood among Gabra Nomads of east Africa


    • Wood, John Colman


When men are women : manhood among Gabra Nomads of east Africa

John Colman Wood

University of Wisconsin Press, c1999

  • cloth : alk. paper
  • pbk. : alk. paper

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Includes bibliographical references and index



In this fascinating exploration of the cultural models of manhood, "When Men Are Women" examines the unique world of the nomadic Gabra people, a camel-herding society in northern Kenya. Gabra men denigrate women and feminine things, yet regard their most prestigious men as women. As they grow older, all Gabra men become d abella, or ritual experts, who have feminine identities. Wood s study draws from structuralism, psychoanalytic theory, and anthropology to probe the meaning of opposition and ambivalence in Gabra society. "When Men Are Women" provides a multifaceted view of gender as a cultural construction independent of sex, but nevertheless fundamentally related to it. By turning men into women, the Gabra confront the dilemmas and ambiguities of social life. Wood demonstrates that the Gabra can provide illuminating insight into our own culture s understanding of gender and its function in society."

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