Female initiation rites appear to be at odds with westernized urban society in present-day Zambia. This book offers an interpretation of the relevance of female initiation rites in an urban setting among today's `modern' Christian women.
Female initiation rites are linked to gender relations. In this book changes in gender relations during the last few centuries and decades are examined on a socio-economic, religious and political level. Despite these changes, initiation rites remain of remarkable significance to women.
In this book, the author gives an in-dept description of these initiation rites and analyzes their meaning and relevance for Zambian women at present. Despite new types of initiation rites and wedding ceremonies, such as Christian weddings and kitchen parties, based on Christian ideas and ideas of modernity, traditional initiation rites remain the central institution that construe female Zambian identity. Initiation rites emphasize female fertility, but also the importance of inter-human relationships, necessary for procreation, as well as relationships with the ancestral spirits, and women's central religious roles.
Thera Rasing (Ph. D. Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2001) is a cultural anthropologist and specializes in gender studies. Publications include "Passing on the rites of passage" (1995) and "Globalization and the making of consumers: Zambian kitchen parties" (in Fardon, van Binsbergen and van Dijk (eds) 1999).