Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores changing modes of self-care practiced by white women from the Global North who are living in Ghana. Women first arrive in Ghana seeking self-care through cultural and romance tourism, focused on finding a new way of being in and at ease with the (female, sexual, imperfect) body. Through a valenced discourse of second-wave feminism, women narrate their encounters with Ghanaian men as a liberation from patriarchal limitations back home. As women shift from tourist to expatriate, and from girlfriend to wife/mother, the fantasy of Ghana collides with the reality. Local expectations of women—around mothering and childcare, gender and comportment—produce new experiences of restriction. Self-care is then channeled into homosociality and racialized consumption, through which women carve out a space of comfort and home for the newly-imperfect female body and self. This paper explores women’s understandings of the ironies of their attempt to escape patriarchy mapped onto geography by going abroad, only to encounter a new form of it in their new home, which in turn requires a reconstruction of the old home through consumption and sociality.