chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides a history of women and highlights the history of the whys and wherefores of society from women's viewpoints. It highlights several meaningful themes that seemed essential to an understanding of the changes in women's condition in the countryside and the city from just before colonialism to the present. The themes are work, education, labor migration, economic activity, marriage, divorce, sexuality, political action, and artistic awakening. In the twentieth century, the sources are more expressive and suggest how women's fate and function changed, sometimes slowly and sometimes brutally, with the beginning and then the traumas of colonial and postcolonial "modernity." Distinctions between the colonial period and independence turn out not to be significant; cross-cultural influences and overlays have become stronger since the beginning of European domination, and decolonization had no special effect on women's condition.