Publisher: African Studies Association

La RéVolte Des Femmes: Economic Upheaval and The Gender of Political Authority In Lomé, Togo, 1931–

Benjamin N. Lawrance
KEYWORDS: La Révolte des Femmes: Economic Upheaval and the Gender of Political Authority in Lomé, Togo, 1931–33


In 1932 the governor of French Togoland announced an increase in taxes on Lomé market women because of the economic downturn caused by the Depression. Both the indigenous city council and a clandestine resistance movement opposed this fiscal plan, warning of social unrest. The strain triggered a protest by market women that spread beyond the colonial capital. This article offers a new explanation of the explosive tension by arguing that an organized male political campaign conjoined with a socioeconomic protest led by market women. It explores women's resistance as a performance of vodou ritual as a vehicle of shame and protest. Ultimately the violent, culturally marked protests marked the gendered perimeters of political authority for both Ewe women and men and further defined Ewe market women's conception of an Ewe self and the emergence of conflicting and contested notions of “Eweness” as a prelude to the independence struggle.

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