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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Precolonial palm oil production and gender division of labor in nineteenth-century Gold Coast and Togoland
Author:Maier, Donna J.E.ISNI
Periodical:African Economic History (ISSN 0145-2258)
Geographic terms:Ghana
German Togoland
Subjects:palm oil
gender division of labour
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41756120
Abstract:This paper examines traditional methods of manufacturing palm oil in what is today southeastern Ghana and southern Togo in order to shed light on how communities in the area were able to accomplish significant expansion of palm oil in the 19th century. It demonstrates that communities in the Gold Coast and Togoland responded somewhat innovatively to European demand for palm oil. Traditional, labour-intensive methods of producing high quality oil, carried out by women, could never have met the quantities demanded by the European export market. Instead, a pit method was developed for producing low quality oil for the export market, that utilized male as well as female labour. The relatively basic technological changes made it possible for the indigenous economy to adapt to the increased external market. Some alteration and redesignation of labour and gender relations occurred and production moved from the household to the sphere of lineage heads and small share farmers, but production for local markets remained in the hands of women. The social and economic consequences of palm oil production in the area were never revolutionary because the internal markets were able to cushion slumps, booms and busts in the external markets. Ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]