Enduring Polygamy: Plural Marriage and Social Change in an African Metropolis (Politics of Marriage and Gender: Global Issues in Local Contexts) (Paperback)

Enduring Polygamy: Plural Marriage and Social Change in an African Metropolis (Politics of Marriage and Gender: Global Issues in Local Contexts) By Bruce Whitehouse Cover Image

Enduring Polygamy: Plural Marriage and Social Change in an African Metropolis (Politics of Marriage and Gender: Global Issues in Local Contexts) (Paperback)

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Why hasn’t polygamous marriage died out in African cities, as experts once expected it would? Enduring Polygamy considers this question in one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities: Bamako, the capital of Mali, where one in four wives is in a polygamous marriage. Using polygamy as a lens through which to survey sweeping changes in urban life, it offers ethnographic and demographic insights into the customs, gender norms and hierarchies, kinship structures, and laws affecting marriage, and situates polygamy within structures of inequality that shape marital options, especially for young Malian women. Through an approach of cultural relativism, the book offers an open-minded but unflinching perspective on a contested form of marriage. Without shying away from questions of patriarchy and women’s oppression, it presents polygamy from the everyday vantage points of Bamako residents themselves, allowing readers to make informed judgments about it and to appreciate the full spectrum of human cultural diversity.

BRUCE WHITEHOUSE is an associate professor of anthropology at Lehigh University, where he is also affiliated with the Africana and global studies programs. He is the author of Migrants and Strangers in an African City: Exile, Dignity, and Belonging.
Product Details ISBN: 9781978831131
ISBN-10: 1978831137
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: April 14th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English
Series: Politics of Marriage and Gender: Global Issues in Local Contexts
"In some wide regions, people deem polygamy a normal, natural option. In others, it’s spurned as an archaic, immoral form of oppression. But if monogamy may be human history’s exception, eyes and minds need opening to polygamy’s enduring pros, cons, and complexities. This collaboratively researched, empathic volume does it superbly."
— Parker Shipton