Colloquium: ‘You have to have someone’: Mothering, Childcare and Emotions in Post-colonial Zambia

  • Datum: 29.06.2021
  • Uhrzeit: 17:00
  • Vortragende(r): Sacha Hepburn, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Ort: online
  • Gastgeber: Forschungsbereich Geschichte der Gefühle

This paper uses oral history interviews conducted with Zambian working mothers to explore the entangled histories of mothering, childcare, and emotions. In postcolonial Zambia, the most common forms of childcare were reliance on family members and the employment of domestic workers, both of which primarily involved female labour. Oral histories provide insights into working women’s experiences of and perspectives on their childcare strategies and their role as employers of domestic workers.

Crucially, they show how emotions, including anxiety, fear, and love, underpinned women’s childcare choices and drove demand for female labour, impacted women when they left their children in the care of others, and characterised women’s relationships with their domestic workers. These findings have broader implications for understanding the nature of gender, labour, and the economy in post-colonial Africa, including by showing how emotions shaped social reproduction, female labour force participation, and labour relations.

Sacha Hepburn is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is a historian of modern Africa, specializing in labour, gender, and childhood. She is currently completing her first book, Home Economics: Domestic Service and Gender in Urban Southern Africa, to be published by Manchester University Press in 2022. She is also undertaking new research into historical patterns of and interventions into children’s employment in  private Africa. She tweets as @SachaHepburn.

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