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ACS 804: Presentation of papers – Mwita Muniko, Rachel Maina
December 13, 2022 @ 2:00 pm
Everyone in ACS is invited to attend the mini-conference on Tuesday, December 13 from 2 – 3:15 p.m. in 3425 Sterling Hall, where African 804 students Mwita Muniko and Rachel Maina will present their papers.
Their titles and abstracts are below:
“You Know Even Us Men, We Are in Various Levels”: The Hierarchy of Kuria Masculinities
In this chapter, I critically engage with the idea of hierarchies of masculinity in African contexts. Although research on this subject illustrate that certain groups of men exercise relative dominance and power over others (as well as women), I argue that hierarchies of masculinity are blurry because individuals’ positions within the hierarchy shift depending on context. Drawing on ethnographic interviews, autoethnographic perspectives, and fieldwork observations, I demonstrate how historical, social, cultural, and economic factors shape, influence, and even challenge dominant discourses on hierarchies of masculinity in my home community. My work not only contributes to a wide range of scholarship on masculinities, but I also incorporate autoethnographic and personal narratives, approaches that have not been widely explored by previous studies of masculinities in Africa.
Straddling Two Cultures: An Autoethnography of Sartorial Ambivalence, (Mis)Interpretation, and Competence
Clothing is a system of signification, a visual language with meanings derived from sartorial codes. Many scholars do not address their dress choices in the field; few do it in passing. I argue that autoethnographic narratives can give us insights into the significance of dress choice in the field by analyzing and interpreting the reactions of self and others. In this article, I examine my dressing as I conducted informal linguistic research among the Swahili, a Muslim community on the East African coast, and within my home community upcountry in Central Kenya, where most people are Christian. I present autoethnographic narratives where I focus a descriptive and analytic eye on my experiences in the field and at home. My narratives focus on the ambivalence of an outsider, the attendant benefits and risks of adopting local dress codes, sartorial codeswitching, and the acquisition of sartorial competence. Clothing is not always a reliable index of culture or identity because, like language, the meaning of clothing can be ambiguous and liable to misinterpretation, which sometimes leads to risks. I outline other parallels between language and clothing, while underscoring the significance of adopting the sartorial codes of the community under study.