We Women Worked So Hard

Gender, Urbanization and Social Reproduction in Colonial Harare, Zimbabwe, 1930-1956

Teresa A. Barnes



In her thought-provoking and elegantly written study, Teresa Barnes shows how African ideas of gender in colonial Zimbabwe centrally shaped oppositional responses well before the advent of formal political nationalism. Marshaling an impressive collection of oral histories and rich archival detail, Barnes argues that urban African women and men in colonial Harare constructed complex yet coherent identities and durable hopes for themselves in broad moments of gendered conflict and consensus. this study compels readers to rethink urban colonial history and to question social categories in colonial Zimbabwe and throughout southern Africa.


[Barnes] turns colonial historiography upside down, examining women's struggles in black Salisbury. She merges gender, class, and race, using oral historiography to explore African survival in a white colonial capital. - John David Leaver, Canadian Journal of African Studies


Teresa A. Barnes was born and grew up in the US, but spent the better part of 25 years after college, living and working in southern Africa. She lived in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where she discovered the "gravitational pull" of African history.