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Ibanga, Edidiong Charles

Research Interests:

African History

Geographical Area:


Current Project:

Negotiating Womanhood in Post-colonial, Pre-war Liberia (1970-1988): Archival Mediations, Intersectionality and Selfhood

Womanhood in Liberia is nuanced in many ways. However, existing literature on women in Liberia often features narratives that categorize women as either victims or heroes. More ‘Western’ analytical texts define women before the war as one of two categories – Western or Civilized. This oversimplification and colonialist narrative, as well as the attempts by other scholars to construct the experiences and identities of Liberian women in binary categories, neglects the plurality of experiences and the complexities that characterize womanhood in Liberian communities. A major gap in these discourses is that knowledge and resources produced around women’s history in Liberia often exclude the women themselves as key actors and producers of knowledge, neglecting the broader understanding and new perspectives that this co-production of knowledge could bring. I argue that a new and different approach is required to understand better the nuanced and complex nature of womanhood in Liberia, and that the study of women and womanhood in Liberia needs to be refocused on the women themselves, making them more active as co-producers of this knowledge. More so, the focus must be placed on the intersection of selfhood and the representations in media as an unconventional source of public information. Given that much emphasis has been placed on women during conflict (victims) or during the peacebuilding period (actors), this largely unexplored area could help shed light on women’s realities prior to the conflict – their pre-war social status and how they have negotiated their identities through time. Framed largely by the data recovered from archives at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), and the Group’s work of digitising LBS’s U-Matic tapes, this research which is to be completed as part of the Junior Research Group (JRG) “Africa Knowledges and the Historical Publication since the 1970s”, adopts an interdisciplinary approach combining History, Media, and Gender and Women’s Studies. It adopts a multimedia and ethnographic approach to study the history, mediation in archives, narratives and perceptions of womanhood in Liberia, thereby pursuing a different approach to understanding Liberia’s history and historiography by: (a) considering women as projections and producers; (b) moving beyond the native-civilized discourse to considering mediated (re)presentations alongside selfhood, and how these have changed or evolved over time; (c) examining women’s relationship to and participation in the media as a public sphere, and whether or not this produces upwards social mobility; (d) questioning what memories are conjured to reflect on the å(re)presentations in television broadcasts of the 1980s.


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