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Power, ontologies and gendered resistance in rural northwestern Ghana: Weapons of the ninbala and yeme

Lookup NU author(s): Constance Akurugu, Professor Cathrine Degnen



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This article examines diffuse and complex resistance practices that are exercised within the context of exogamous and virilocal marriage and its constraints. In particular, we consider the deployment of songs and dissimulation as subversive strategies by women in a Dagaaba settlement in northwestern Ghana. We argue that, despite the constraints of marital violence and gendered subordination associated with exogamous marriage practices, and women’s representation of themselves as ninbala — a weak person — and yeme — a slave — in public discourse, they exercise resistance and power. By paying critical attention to the ontological subtleties of power and the other-than-human entities shaping social life and the ‘marriage space’, our analysis offers prospects for thinking about gendered resistance in a manner that incorporates these agentive non-human beings as well as strategies that might otherwise go overlooked, such as choosing silence. Without this careful reading in notably constraining contexts, we risk misrecognising resistance or overemphasising subordination.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Akurugu CA, Degnen C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ethnos

Year: 2022

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 29/06/2022

Acceptance date: 15/06/2022

Date deposited: 30/06/2022

ISSN (print): 0014-1844

ISSN (electronic): 1469-588X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2022.2092172

ePrints DOI: 0


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