Co-engaged learning: Xhosa women's narratives on traditional foods

by Jolly, R.

Abstract (Summary)
This interpretive case study examines Grahamstown East Xhosa women's narratives on the nutritional value of traditional foods. It reviews reflexive learning interactions apparent in the co-engaged narratives of food preparation practices. The research design incorporates methods of reflective co-engagement through which a small team of women were approached as 'co-researchers' in order to work together on shared, local knowledge capital and nutrition concerns. It draws on findings generated using a combination of semi-structured interviews, cooking demonstrations, videography, photographs and field observations as methods of data collection. Data were member-checked and reviewed in a rural context before the emerging evidence was analyzed using Bassey's (1999) analytical statements. Contextual factors influencing the study are high poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS prevalence where nutrition levels have been found to be low. The women making up the study have spent the majority of their lives in the peri-urban area of Grahamstown and in some cases, are more than one generation removed from rural living and its associated knowledge. The accompanying shift to modernization was found to influence the interplay between their narratives and practice. Indigenous Knowledge is often characterized by being situated in practice with the knowledge-holders often not 'knowing that they know.' This study concludes that it is not possible to assume that knowledge can always be consciously expressed, especially when that knowledge is embedded in practice. Related to this, co-engagement and diversity among the group gave rise to greater disequilibrium as well as making the knowledge more explicit and hence, available for reflection. The study suggests that through the process of co-engagement and deliberation around indigenous ways of knowing, agency and cultural identity appears to be enabled and strengthened.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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