issue

abstracts

 


16 (1)


Polygyny and the Rural Accumulation of Capital
Testing a Model Based on Continuing Research in Northern Nigeria Paul Clough

This paper tests the analysis of fieldwork in northern Nigeria between 1977 and 1985, by reference to more recent fieldwork in 1996 and 1998. Based on the evidence I argued that change and continuity in the Hausa Muslim rural economy js best understood, not in terms of a theory of capitalist agrarian transformation, but rather in terms of a long-term 'pattern of complexpolygynous accumulation'. This article assesses the nature of change between fieldwork in 1977-85 and fieldwork in 1996-98. It draws on a spectrum of case studies from small farmers to a newly emergent category of VeryLarge Farmers. It argues that rural accumulation continues to be structured by polygyny - understood as practice (the marriage by men of up to four wives), as obligation (the moral value which enjoins household heads to expand not only the number of their own wives but also that of all their sons), and as desire (the most valued goal of life for both men and women). It
shows how polygyny acts both as an incentive to capital accumulation and as a limit on it. Moreover, polygyny, thus understood, operates to establish so many affinal ties between rural entrepreneurs and between entrepreneurs and poorer households, that the Western notion of 'competitive individuals' is sharply modified by a local notion of persons as 'kin' or 'potential kin'. This enables us to draw comparisons between Schumpeter's model of Western capitalist accumulation - based on the monogamousfamily- and a model of 'complex- polygynous'accumulationwhichis more appropriate to the Hausa Muslim economy.(back)

 


Stepfamilies in Cultural Context
Problems in Middle-Class U.S. Stepfamilies
David Jacobson

Whatever else they may be, stepfamilies are a cultural problem. They are a cultural problem because many of the difficulties entailed in stepfamily formation and functioning derive not from the attributes of the persons involved but rather from socially defined beliefs, values, and norms about marriage and divorce, about families and households, and about relationships within and between households. Although diversity characterizes marital and domestic arrangements in the United States, family researchers suggest that middle-class Americans ubscribe to a set of beliefs that constitute what may be called the 'standard model' of families and households. In this model, it is expected that marriage will be monogamous, that the family will be nuclear, neolocal, and co-residential, and that the members of the family household are entitled to one another's attention and affection. The effort to create viable stepfamilies is constrained by these ideas and ideals (back)


Witchcraft as the Dark Side of Kinship
Dilemmas of Social Security in New Contexts
Peter Geschiere

One of the more disconcerting discoveries during my field-work among the Maka in Southeast Cameroon was that my spokesmen (and -women) saw witchcraft (djambe) as given with kinship (bjel). The most dangerous attacks come 'from inside the house' (djambe-le-ndjaw) and witches are supposed to have a special hold over their relatives. The question for this article is how this link between witchcraft and kinship is affected by the general increase of scale of relations. I try to show, with the help of observations from subsequent fieldwork in Cameroon and examples from recent literature on other parts of Africa, that under the modem changes kinship has to bridge ever greater distances, both spatially and socially: the growing distance between villages and cities; the growing inequalities between elites and their poorer relatives. Striking is that in these contexts people are increasingly speculating about the possibility that witchcraft is reaching beyond the limits of kinship. Kinship terminology has to bridge such distances that it seems to be stretched to a breaking point. Is the general concern about witchcraft running wild related to this feeling that kinship is under a heavy strain? (back)


Porodicne Slike: Family Photos
The Changing Role of Family Photography in Sarajevo
Lieve Willekens

This article gives an insight in a research based on the family photo collections of people who survived the war in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Although war diminished and destroyed almost every aspect of life before the conflict, people managed to save the visual relics of their personal history.The family photos, often damaged in war, are highly appreciated and very popular in Sarajevo nowadays. Influenced by horrifying experiences and dramatical changes in daily life, Sarajevans
interpret their old images. The pictures stir up memories of a family narrative that can only live on by remembrance. This process influences their thoughts of the past and guides them through the hardship of the present. (back)


Caste-based Differences and Contested Family Relations
Social linkages between India and Britain
Mario Rutten and Pravin J. Patei

This article discusses the social linkages between Indian migrants in Britain and their family members in India. It is based on fieldwork conducted in 1998 among members ofthe Patidar community in rural central Gujarat and among their relatives in London in 1999. Many of them migrated to East Africa in the early part of the 20th century and from there to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. The Patidar community in London maintains frequent long-distance family linkages with their home region in India. Marriage arrangements, kinship networks, frequent visits, property, remittances and religious affiliations keep many of the Patidar migrants in London well-linked to the villages in Gujarat. These linkages between India and Britain, however, are not static or without problems. Indian migrants in London and their relatives in Gujarat often express different views on the nature of their relationship and on the type of help rendered. (back)


Too Much Kinship?
Managing Social Relations in a Small Village in Sweden
Ann-Kristin Ekman

This article discusses social relations in a small rural village in Sweden. What initially fascinated me about the village was the close-knit web of kinship, which connected the households. At the same time kinship seemed insignificant in daily life and was, in fact, often hidden. The village is in most aspects a rural place but the villagers also participate in a modem discourse about social life. However, their daily relations take place in a social context much more dense and close than most urban ones. Kinship is always present but the construction of kinship is complex and fluid and the villagers have to manage their kinship-ties in many different local contexts. (back)


Families in Arms:
Kinship and the Military in Israeli Society
Erella Grassiani

These days, we are actors in a wide variety of computational landscapes - for example, we put ourselves in the virtual spaces of simulation games and create representations of ourselves in virtual communities on the Internet. Such involvements have complex 'identity effects'. At the same time that our 'lives on the screen' facilitate an increased fluidity of identity play, we are immersed in simulations whose underlying mechanisms we do not understand and which may encourage us to see the world in simpier rather than more complex terms. (back)