2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

A Feminist Analysis of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions

Zoie Pearson♦
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel, Nervous Conditions, explores Tambu’s identity as an underclass, black woman in 1960s Rhodesia. Tambu yearns for gender equality, only to struggle against the forces that use her blackness, poverty, and femaleness to silence her voice. Tambu is constrained by the toxic masculinity represented in her father, Jeremiah, her brother, Nhamo, and especially the patriarch of her family, Babamukuru, as they strip her and the women around her of power by undermining, neglecting, abusing and devaluing their strength, intelligence, sexuality, and autonomy. The women in Tambu’s life: Maiguru, her aunt, Nyasha her cousin, Mainini, her mother, as she is referred to in the novel, and Lucia, her mother’s sister inspire her to come to terms with her own identity as a woman despite being engulfed by toxic male figures. This paper specifically looks at how gender expectations in Nervous Conditions are understood by Tambu and the impact these expectations have on her identity and life.

Keywords: Gender, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions , Tambu, Rhodesia, Patriarchy , Feminist Criticism, Colonialism


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 206-4
Location: BH 251
Time: 11:00

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♦ Indicates Truman Graduate Student
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