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Uncoupling Heteropatriarchy in African Feminism


Prof. Tendai Mangena

Project dates

Feb. 2023 to Jan. 2027

Project value



British Academy (Global Professor scheme)


"Uncoupling heteropatriarchy in African Feminism" uses the experiences of unmarried Shona women of Zimbabwe as represented in indigenous knowledges and in their biographies, to explore the decolonial implications of such representations for African feminism. It particularly problematizes the concern with heterosexual marriage which, although deeply embedded in indigenous cultures, can be seen as a legacy of the colonial, Euro-Christian influence in African societies.

The project’s broader questions revolve around the voices and experiences of unmarried Shona women, and how these complicate, challenge or disrupt dominant ideas regarding the norms of gender, marriage, and family life in contemporary Africa.

The project establishes the nascent field of singles studies as an important sub-field of inquiry that deepens an understanding of major questions in African and gender studies, such as about gender and modernity, socio-cultural change, and decolonization.