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In the Shadow of Marriage

Gender and Justice in an African Community

Anne Griffiths originally went to Botswana to establish a university course in family law. But independent fieldwork in Botswana convinced her of the central role of the traditional customary legal system that stands alongside the colonial common law of courts and magistrates she was examining in her course. In the first comparative work on these two systems, Griffiths shows how the structure of both legal institutions is based on power and gender relations that heavily favor males.

Griffiths’s analysis is based on careful observation of how people actually experience the law as well as the more standard tools of statutes and cases familiar to Western legal scholars. She explains how women’s access to law is determined by social relations over which they have little control. In this powerful feminist critique of law and anthropology, Griffiths shows how law and custom are inseparable for Kwena women. Both colonial common law and customary law pose comparable and constant challenges to Kwena women’s attempts to improve their positions in society.

320 pages | 16 halftones, 4 maps, 4 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1997

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1: Academic Narratives: Models and Methods in the Search for Meanings
2: The Gendered Dynamics of Households: Managing Resources, Procreation, and Marriage
3: Diverging Families: Social Stratification, Procreation, and Marriage
4: Pregnancy and Marriage: The World of Negotiation and Dispute
5: The Gendered World of Marriage: Claims of Desertion and Neglect
6: Untying the Knot: Public Dissolution and Division of Property
7: Final Partings: Institutional Encounters and the Shifting Boundaries of Law
8: Reconfiguring Law: A Differentiating Perspective
App. A: Procreative Relationships and Marriage in Three Families
App. B: Text for Teko Mere’s Hearing
App. C: Text for Nyana Segethsho’s Hearing
App. D: Text for the Kgosidintsis’ Hearing
App. E: Text for the Makokas’ Hearing
App. F: Text for Mmathari’s and Tshotego’s Hearing

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