Through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a man taking to his bed during his female partner’s pregnancy, or otherwise restricting his diet and behaviour in a ritual manner, was regarded as a poor primitive ‘excuse for paternal indulgence’. This practice, known as ‘couvade’, appeared in Western colonialist discourse as merely another variation on the lazy and stupid savage’ (Swan 313). Modem explanations of couvade are many and various, deriving from feminist, psychological and anthropological discourses and their fusions. But couvade, as I attempt to untangle its relation to colonialism in this essay, is a strategy re-invented for the purposes of reconciliation in narratives of Manichean allergory



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