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Tangible Voice-Throwing: Empowering Corporeal Discourses in African Women’s Writing of Southern Africa


Bettina Weiss

This study is the first book-length analysis of African women’s writing of Southern Africa with a focus on writing the body. The thesis is that women are not voiceless, but hold a powerful, liberating potential: they «throw their voices» by implementing a strategic corporeal. Notably, this mode is not carried out in a way of emphasising corporeal difference by lack, but by attributing positive markers to the body. It reaches beyond a speaking which only represents women’s thoughts and emotions physically – a mode which might render the impression that they are incapable of expressing their conceptions and sentiments linguistically. It is an empowerment that reflects their skill to break up the bonds between language and body. This study is wide-ranging in its choice of authors and themes.


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Tangible Voice-Throwing: An Analysis of Corporeal Discourses [P]eople of color have always theorized — but in forms quite different from the Western form of abstract logic. [... O]ur theorizing [...] is often in narrative forms, in the stories we create, in riddles and proverbs. Barbara Christian, 1987. Women's voice-throwing as such, as I have explained in the previous chapters, is not a new phenomenon. It has always existed, but in varied intensities and restricted spheres. Sometimes !Kung women celebrated their womanhood with verve; sometimes women subverted and ridiculed gender myths in oral storytelling 9M1 What is new, though, is that women have crossed the borderline of restricted spheres and have thrown their voices for everyone to hear. Their voice is accusing and daring as Jennifer's, the female protagonist in Toasted Penis and Cheese (1999), who sarcastically dedicates her confessions to "James Bond."' Their voice is mocking as the one of a young Tswana woman's who, when repeatedly battered and abused by her husband, claims that she one day "got bis finger and just chewed it" (Stories of Courage 51) or as Dorothy's, a prostitute in Virgina Phiri's collection of short stories entitled Desperate (2002), who takes revenge an her husband's lover by "chewing her ear until a piece of it came off in [.. her] mouth" (31) and then triumphantly swallowing it, but not before displaying the chewed-off piece in front of her 94 Cf. chapter "Demystifying Old Myths and Creating New Ones" and chapter "Exciting' Speech in Nisas The Lafi...

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