"We will have gained ourselves": narrative experiences of African women pursuing higher education in the United States of America

Mwangi, Mumbi
Major Professor
Leslie Rebecca Bloom
Committee Member
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This study uses feminist life-history narrative methodology to explore the experiences of three African women, who have pursued or are pursuing higher education in the United States, leaving their families in Africa. Contextualized within the socio-historical cultural, colonial, and post-colonial discourses on domesticity and education, this study not only illuminates the pain, ambivalence and struggles women experienced in pursuit of higher education, but also reveals the tension between domesticity and education and how this tension inhibits African women's access to education. The conceptual and methodological framework of this study is grounded in feminist perspective, which allows for a critical approach to issues and concerns in the African women respondents' lives. However, after identifying certain gaps during the interpretation process, the study reveals that the unproblematic use of feminist concepts developed from the Western feminist perspective to study African women fails to adequately reflect different and contextualized reality of African women's experiences. This study, therefore, argues for a more inclusive and contextualized approach by advancing a feminist frameless/framework characterized by "fluidity" of dimensions and strategies in order to reflect, capture, and validate specific contextual lived experiences of African women.;This study culminates into a form of activism by addressing elements of change through letters addressed to the African heads of state, the Vice Chancellors (Presidents) of universities in Africa, and the young generation of women in Africa. The letters offer strategies and suggestions for social, cultural, and policy changes relevant to women and women's education in Africa.