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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Women's Worth and Wedding Gift Exchange in Maradi, Niger, 1907-1989
Author:Cooper, Barbara M.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Niger
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Cultural Roles
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/183257
Abstract:Wedding gift exchange from the turn of the century to the present has served as a medium through which Hausa women in the Maradi valley of Niger could assert their worth, create social ties and respond to a shifting political economy. Rather than exploring the implications of 'bridewealth' and 'dowry' in isolation, this paper sees wedding prestations as an ongoing and evolving dialogue in which women's roles and worth are contested, the nature of wealth is redefined and the terms of marriage are negotiated. The crisis in domestic labour which arose with the decline of slavery in the early decades of the century gave rise to informal unions through which the labour of junior women could be controlled. Women responded to these informal marriages by staging highly visible ceremonies which established the worth and standing of the bride. Women's eroding position within the economy since 1950 has drawn them further and further into gift exchange, both in order to build a safety net in the form of exchange value stored in a woman's dowry and to secure the social ties which can ensure their continued access to increasingly contested resources. Notes, ref., sum.