Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo

Social Construction and the Invisible Gender Roles in Talensi House Construction

Published: 2012-01-01 | DOI: 10.54799/WFOP9930


»Women do not build«, is a Talensi saying that is known to the young and the old of both sexes. Is there any truth in this saying? Or can a building be constructed by men only? Gender is a basic structuring principle for Talensi activities including house construction. However, some gendered roles are socially more visible and acknowledged than others. Gender is used here to refer to the socially, culturally, psychologically and historically constructed identities that the Talensi perceive as male and female. The society has accordingly defined roles for men and women in house construction. This paper examines gender perspectives among the Talensi of Tengzug in indigenous house construction. Who does what on the basis of biological, cultural, social and historical experiences? The methods used in gathering data included interviewing a cross section of people of both sexes, differing ages and social status. Ethnographic data was collected by personal observation and participation in gendered activities. The research found adequate evidence to show that both sexes and gender groups contribute substantially to house construction. Men are responsible for the erection of building structures and roofing while women do the plastering and flooring. It also shows that the invisibility of women in Talensi indigenous house construction is set and guided by local cultural norms and practices that are underpinned by a patrilineal system of inheritance. A critical examination of the total building experiences of the Talensi society shows that women do build.

How to Cite

Eyifa-Dzidzienyo, Gertrude Aba Mansah. 2012. “Social Construction and the Invisible Gender Roles in Talensi House Construction”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 53 (1/2):86-101.
A circular Talensi compound. Photo by E. Nyarko
A circular Talensi compound. Photo by E. Nyarko
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