‘Maasainess’ and Whiteness: The Ruins of Colonial ‘Penetration’ in Hoffman’s The White Maasai and Budgor’s the Warrior Princess

Neema Eliphas Laizer

Abstract


Abstract This paper looks at ‘Maasainess’ and Whiteness as binaries in constant engagement aimed to question how Whiteness is re-inscribed in Maasainess in the autobiographical genre. It explores the image of the Maasai often figured as a male warrior, a residue from the colonial intrusion into the East African region during the nineteenth century. To trace the various embodiments of this male figure and how it enhances the intersections between Maasainess and Whiteness, I focus on two autobiographies by Euro-American women: Corine Hoffman’s The White Maasai and Budgor’s The Warrior Princess: Becoming the First Female Maasai Warrior. Drawing from Mary Louise Pratt’s idea of the contact zones and Renato Rosaldo’s imperial nostalgia, the paper reads Maasainess and Whiteness as sites of cultural encounters, even contested encounters. Both Hofmann and Budgor appropriate the Maasai male warrior by way of nostalgia as a trope and double cultural signifier to embody and reflect white privilege as well as freeze the image of Africa to its colonial past. It argues that the autobiography as a tool for self-expression is employed to extend the colonial agenda to appropriate cultural spaces and entities to further perpetuate the differences between Maasainess and Whiteness as cultural markers. However, the two autobiographies read here as medium of selfexpression defy such cultural appropriations through their constant engagement with Whiteness and Maasainess as categories of difference, highlighting the fault lines in the cultural appropriation of Maasainess by Whiteness.

Keywords: Maasainess, Whiteness, Cultural Signifier, Cultural appropriation https://dx.doi.org/10.56279/ummaj.v9i1.2


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