Girl Cases: Marriage And Colonialism In Gusiiland, Kenya, 1890-1970

Hardcover | August 1, 2006

byBrett L. Shadle

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Beginning in the late 1930s, a crisis in colonial Gusiiland developed over traditional marriage customs. Couples eloped, wives deserted husbands, fathers forced daughters into marriage, and desperate men abducted women as wives. Existing historiography focuses on women who either fled their rural homes to escape a new "dual patriarchy"-African men backed by colonial officials-or surrendered themselves to this new power. "Girl Cases": Marriage and Colonialism in Gusiiland, Kenya 1890-1970 takes a new approach to the study of Gusii marriage customs and shows that Gusii women stayed in their homes to fight over the nature of marriage. Gusii women and their lovers remained committed to traditional bridewealth marriage, but they raised deeper questions over the relations between men and women. During this time of social upheaval, thousands of marriage disputes flowed into local African courts. By examining court transcripts, "Girl Cases" sheds light on the dialogue that developed surrounding the nature of marriage. Should parental rights to arrange a marriage outweigh women's rights to choose their husbands? Could violence by abductors create a legitimate union? Men and women debated these and other issues in the courtroom, and Brett L. Shadle's analysis of the transcripts provides a valuable addition to African social history.

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Beginning in the late 1930s, a crisis in colonial Gusiiland developed over traditional marriage customs. Couples eloped, wives deserted husbands, fathers forced daughters into marriage, and desperate men abducted women as wives. Existing historiography focuses on women who either fled their rural homes to escape a new "dual patriarchy"...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.3 × 6.44 × 0.98 inPublished:August 1, 2006Publisher:HeinemannLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:032507092X

ISBN - 13:9780325070926

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"Brett Shadle's Girl Cases examines the impact of mature colonialism in East Africa on the Gusii and on their strategies to maintain wealth in a era of rapid social change. Girl Cases is a marvelous social history of the epidemic of "girl cases" that seemed to challenge the very nature of Gusii concepts of wealth and security. In an era of increasing bridewealth and stagnating wages, Gusii elders increasing turned to the native courts to control both young women and young men. Employing a sophisticated methodology for mining the transcripts of the regions local courts, Shadle uncovers precious detail on the changing meanings of marriage and strategies of young women and men to define their own futures."-Richard Roberts Professor and Director of Center for African Studies Stanford University