International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Power and Gender: Women’s Dominance in Umulumgbe Funeral Ritual Spaces
Gloria Nwandu Ozor

Power is only activated in use. Among social groups and cultures, death offers an occasion for the exercise of power, thus creating a division of which the dominant position is reserved for critical actors within the ritual space assigned by culture. The thrust of this paper is its investigation of the place of women’s participation vis-àvis men’s in rituals associated with funerals. This is important, considering the amount of literature on male dominance over females specially brought to limelight through feminist/gender studies. Most of such studies have explored patriarchy as limiting/denying women’s roles as well as frustrating their struggles and access to power. Apart from its investigation of the roles of female actors in funeral rituals of Umulumgbe people, south-east Nigeria, this paper also looks at how these roles link with the ideology of power in terms of the processes of its negotiation and use, taking into consideration the foundations upon which such power is legitimized and structured. The paper concludes with the finding that women assert their dominance over men through ‘feminine asserts’ associated with culturally assigned funeral ritual spaces, thus overturning, in a very significant way, the idea of patriarchy. This is an analysis of a fieldwork which I carried out in Umulumgbe in Enugu State of Nigeria in order to determine the place of women in Umulumgbe funeral ritual performance.

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