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Marriage in Past, Present and Future Tense

Marriage in Past, Present and Future Tense

By Janet Carsten



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. Praise for Marriage in Past, Present and Future Tense 'Readers of Marriage in Past, Present and Future Tense  will find detailed ethnographic portraits of the "ordinary ethics" of social life as reflected, enabled and demanded by marriage. ...Papadaki's lyrical chapter on compromise among middle-class women in Athens underlines the strategic sacrifices that women make to maintain their marriages. ...Maunaguru's fascinating chapter about marriage and migration among Sri Lankan Tamils looks at particular wedding customs (such as the planting of a tree or the staging of wedding photographs) as dynamic rituals that take on new articulations, audiences, and resonances in the context of transnational marriage migration.'Journal of Anthropological Research '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" 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

ISBN: 9781800080393


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