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When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya

by Heather D Switzer University of Illinois Press
Pub Date:
09/2018
ISBN:
9780252083723
Format:
Pbk 248 pages
Price:
AU$62.00 NZ$64.35
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
Teasing out the entanglement of vulnerability and empowerment in girls' lives


 


A host of international organizations promotes the belief that education will empower Kenya's Maasai girls. Yet the ideas that animate their campaigns often arise from presumptions that reduce the girls themselves to helpless victims of gender-related forms of oppression.


 


Heather D. Switzer's interviews with over one hundred Kenyan Maasai schoolgirls challenge the widespread view of education as a silver bullet solution to global poverty. In their own voices, the girls offer incisive insights into their commitments, aspirations, and desires. Switzer weaves this ethnographic material into an astute analysis of historical literature, education and development documents, and theoretical literature. Maasai schoolgirls express a particular knowledge about themselves and provocative hopes for their futures. Yet, as Switzer shows, new opportunities force them to face, and navigate, new vulnerabilities and insecurities within a society that is itself in flux.
"One of the only books that I know which draws on and shares the perspectives and experiences of schoolgirls themselves, thus challenging dominant ideas that they are especially passive, vulnerable, or incapable of articulating their complicated and changing lives. As such, the book directly challenges broad, abstract claims by development donors and other champions of 'the girl effect.'"--Dorothy L. Hodgson, author of Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World
Heather D. Switzer is an assistant professor of women and gender studies in the School for Social Transformation at Arizona State University.