Marriage as Disruption and Creation of Belonging

Rupert Stasch

in Society of Others

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256859
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943322 | DOI:
Marriage as Disruption and Creation of Belonging

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This chapter explores how Korowai centrally define marriage as the practice of a husband and wife sharing life activities. It considers bridewealth and other affinal institutions that express and ameliorate a marriage's disruption of the bride's relations with her own kin. Three kinds of marriage-making events are addressed: communication between prospective spouses, actions of brinkmanship, and betrothal. Affinal institutions such as betrothal, bridewealth, and direct reciprocal marriage are all important enough, but the real litmus test of affinal bonds is spatial copresence and the crossing of spatial distance. The geographic dynamics of marriage qualify and elaborate landownership's effects of organizing people's lives around belonging to place and around acts of crossing spatial margins to engage with owners of strange places. Courtship, histories of shared living, histories of affinal conciliation, and other marital processes are often dominantly processes of the formation of belonging.

Keywords: bridewealth; affinal institutions; disruption; brinkmanship; betrothal; direct reciprocal marriage; Korowai; belonging

Chapter.  14820 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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