Gender and Difference: Youth, bodies and clothing in Zambia

Karen Tranberg Hansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Like all bodies, Zambian bodies are not only physical and material, but they are also socially constituted and managed. This chapter explores how we may view clothing consumption practices of young adults of both sexes in Zambia as a form of bodily praxis that tells us something about 'being-in-the-world' on Zambian terms (Friedman 1994: 112-6; Miller 1990). The link between body and knowledge suggested here derives from Bourdieu (Moore 1994: 78). The bodily praxis discussed here refers to young women's and men's understanding of social distinctions through their bodies and recognising that their particular position within social relations is based on that knowledge. In an essay on clothing consumption in his family Benard, a grade-twelve student in Mansa, acknowledged how Zambian society 'traditionally' has constructed embodiment. He explained: I'm of a family of five boys and four girls. Boys are supposed to wear trousers starting from their adolescence: this is due to our traditional dressing. For girls, they are not allowed to wear trousers because it's against our culture and it is part of family rules. Because if they start wearing trousers, they will show no respect to our parents who bought our clothes. Therefore girls in our family are only allowed to wear dresses with vitenge material (Bemba for printed cloth) covering the bottom part of their dress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGender, Agency and Change
Subtitle of host publicationAnthropological Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781134585731
ISBN (Print)0415228271, 9780415228275
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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