Troubled Traditions: Female Adaptive Education in British Colonial Africa

TitleTroubled Traditions: Female Adaptive Education in British Colonial Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPrevost, Elizabeth E.
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Date Published05/2017

This article examines African female education reform between the wars as a conjuncture of transnational philanthropic initiatives and state and missionary objectives on the ground. Through a comparative treatment of four schools in West, East and South-Central Africa, it shows that the search to recover and re-create the authentic African subject was a gendered process that aimed to critique one brand of colonialism (settler and industrial capitalism) by bolstering another (indirect rule). The schools at Achimota (Gold Coast), Kabete (Kenya), Hope Fountain (Southern Rhodesia) and Mbereshi (Northern Rhodesia) all idealised women’s traditional education as the key to offsetting the dangers of modernisation and preserving the integrity of the social body, and ‘adapted’ their curricula accordingly to their perception of women’s normative economic and social roles. However, the internal contradictions of this project stymied any possibility of implementing it in a cohesive way, and even its advocates and architects were often forced to admit the limits of tradition as a coherent logic or redemptive force. The gendered contours of adaptation, therefore, showed the potential of education to destabilise as much as to reinforce the shifting paradigms of the colonial project.

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period: