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Domestic Tensions, National AnxietiesGlobal Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation$
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Kristin Celello and Hanan Kholoussy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199856749

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856749.001.0001

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Materialism, Contention, and Rebellion

Materialism, Contention, and Rebellion

The Changing Demands on Marriage in Colonial Zanzibar

(p.108) 6 Materialism, Contention, and Rebellion
Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties

Elke E. Stockreiter

Oxford University Press

From the 1900s to the 1940s in the British protectorate of Zanzibar, women and men rebelled against previous notions of marriage, seeking to shape conjugal unions according to their own interests in a changing political economy. While the endogamous and arranged nature of marriage reinforced cleavages and epitomized elders’ control over juniors, the materialization of marriage, tied into intergenerational and gender conflicts, culminated in a marriage crisis in the mid-1940s. During the peak of nationalism, this crisis was manifested in elders’ demands for inflated dowers and child marriage in rural areas, with marriage patterns continuously serving to consolidate ethnic groups and rarely offering ways of bridging social divides. Yet Zanzibari women used modern and nationalist discourse to challenge men’s expectations of wifehood. At the same time, Muslim scholars argued against child marriage, as they jeopardized the purity of the female body and public morality.

Keywords:   Zanzibar, rebellion, elders, materialism, nationalism, dower, child marriage, ethnic groups, Muslim, public morality

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