literacy, rhetoric, pedagogy
This thesis analyzes the life and work of Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, one of the foremost African woman rhetors of our time. Wangari Maathai--founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement (GBM), Member of Parliament, and activist for democracy, sustainable development, and human rights--has cultivated a multidimensional literacy that has allowed her to truly understand and address the problems that post-colonial Kenyans face. Her strong solution-oriented approach has allowed her to develop and refine operation of the GBM, which began simply planting trees, to produce a worldwide organization that works for sustainable development, human rights, and environmental conservation/restoration (among many others) by attacking the roots of disempowerment and challenging participants to become the primary agents of change. Through the overlapping lenses of Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Jacqueline Jones Royster's Traces of a Stream, and Filomina Chioma Steady's Women and Collective Action in Africa, I trace Maathai's emergence as a literate women in late 20th century Kenya who is able to effect meaningful social change. This examination of her life and work uncovers the convergence of literacies (academic, critical, civic, and cultural) that have created her unique worldview. Furthermore, it also examines her rhetorical construction of self through an analysis of her context, her ethos construction, and her mandates for action. At the heart of the study is an exploration of the GBM as an outlet of civic and environmental education. This discussion explores Maathai's approach to civic education as well as the potential pedagogical implications of that approach in the composition classroom of the Western university.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Allen, Cassandra Marie, "Engendering Agency: Literacies, Social Action, And Wangari Maathai S Green Belt Movement" (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3057.