Marriage globally is undergoing profound change, provoking widespread public comment and concern. Through the close ethnographic examination of case studies drawn from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, Marriage in Past, Present and Future Tense places new and changing forms of marriage in comparative perspective as a transforming and also transformative social institution. In conditions of widespread socio-political inequality and instability, how are the personal, the familial and the political co-produced? How do marriages encapsulate the ways in which memories of past lives, present experience and imaginaries of the future are articulated?
Exploring the ways that marriage draws together and distinguishes history and biography, ritual and law, economy and politics in intimate family life, this volume examines how familial and personal relations, and the ethical judgements they enfold, inform and configure social transformation. Contexts that have been partly shaped through civil wars, cold war and colonialism – as well as other forms of violent socio-political rupture – offer especially apt opportunities for tracing the interplay between marriage and politics. But rather than taking intimate family life and gendered practice as simply responsive to wider socio-political forces, this work explores how marriage may also create social change. Contributors consider the ways in which marital practice traverses the domains of politics, economics and religion, while marking a key site where the work of linking and distinguishing those domains is undertaken.
Janet Carsten is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.
Hsiao-Chiao Chiu is ERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage project at the University of Edinburgh.
Siobhan Magee is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.
Eirini Papadaki is ERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage project at the University of Edinburgh.
Koreen M. Reece is ERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage project at the University of Edinburgh.
List of figures
List of contributors
Introduction: marriage in past, present and future tense
Janet Carsten, Hsiao-Chiao Chiu, Siobhan Magee, Eirini Papadaki and Koreen M. Reece
1. Go fiwa molao/giving the law: marriage, law, and social change in Botswana
Koreen M. Reece
2. ‘You can learn to do it right, or you can learn to do it wrong’: marriage counselling, togetherness, and creative conservatism in Lynchburg, Virginia
3. Marriage, time, affect and the politics of compromise in Athens
4. Getting married as a trial: deferring marriage in Jinmen, Taiwan
5. (Un)certain futures: rhythms and assemblages of transnational Sri Lankan Tamil marriages
6. Marriage and self-fashioning in Penang, Malaysia: transformations of the intimate and the political
‘Can marriage, under the banner of conformity and “tradition”, become the vehicle for innovative, even radical, social change? The authors in this volume explore this provocative question through exquisitely rich ethnographic accounts of the transformational potential of marriage in diverse cultures across the globe. They beautifully illuminate the subtle work of “ordinary ethics” – the everyday evaluations and comparisons of relations past, present, and future – through which people reimagine and reshape the contours of the normative expectations that ricochet through the worlds of individuals, families and nations.’ – Susan McKinnon, University of Virginia
234 × 156 mm
4 B&W illustrations
September 01, 2021