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Effects of British Colonization on Zimbabwe Women

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The Effects of British Colonization on Zimbabwe Women

The British began their colonization of Zimbabwe in 1890 as part of their project of capitalist expansion and world domination. Colonial expansion was a means of complete control of territories and furthered the expansion of their capitalist political economy. Africa provided the British with slaves, minerals, and raw materials to help them in their capitalist development. To help support capitalist expansion, the British asserted colonial discourse of power and superiority over the colonized. This discourse, or a system of representation, provided a way for the British to produce a position that the West was a superior civilization. In such a discourse the British were able to impose their cultural beliefs, particularly beliefs about gender, on the people they colonized. The imposition of colonial discourse, therefore, greatly affected colonized women.

In her somewhat autobiographical novel Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga shows us how the women in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, were affected by this colonization by the British. Through different female characters, she shows us how colonization alienated women physically and psychologically through the lack of education, poverty, and relegation to the private sphere. Her novel not only tells about the effects of colonization but also emphasizes that women, despite restrictive gender roles, can develop the critical awareness, determination and strength to fight against their alienation and emancipate themselves from the restrictions of colonial discourse.

Before the British came to Zimbabwe, the family worked together as a tribe to help provide for everyone in that family and keep each other above high water. Every me...

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...talism, discourse, and patriarchy. After watching her female family members and taking note of everything they experience, and using the opportunities she earns and gains from an education, Tambu is able to educate herself with the critical awareness and strength to emancipate herself and overcome the burdens of gender and alienation of colonization of Zimbabwe. After reading the novel, Nervous Conditions and doing research, I have learned that the colonization of Zimbabwe forced the women of Zimbabwe into very hard roles to play. I have learned that through these processes of colonization, capitalism, discourse, patriarchy, and as a result alienation, women were, as Maria Mies puts it, "externalized, declared to be outside civilized society, pushed down, and thus made invisible as the under-water part of an iceberg is invisible, yet constitute the base of the whole."

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