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The most common cultural activities involve music and dancing. Mali also has a ballet troupe that performs throughout the world.
Bruce Whitehouse examines how mali is understood and practiced in West Africa--and the potential consequences of its changing meaning. During a dating ceremony in Bamako, the capital city of the West African nation of Mali, couples pledge their commitment to one another in front of family and friends. Brides wear white dresses, and ceremonies are often followed by elaborate celebrations with food and dancing. At first glance, the practice of marriage in Bamako appears similar to that of many Western cultures.
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A check box on the required paperwork for a legally binding civil ceremony, however, draws a distinction. Malian law requires couples to commit to either monogamy or polygyny when they marry. Checking the box for polygyny—a form of plural marriage in which a man is allowed more than one wife—does not require a man to mali another wife at any point, but it leaves the option available.
If a couple commits to monogamy, they are legally bound to that type of union unless both datings agree to legally change the agreement. Fewer than one in dating couples in the mali city of Bamako check the monogamy box, says Bruce Whitehouse, associate professor of anthropology.
Monogamy, says Whitehouse, has taken on something of a bad name in Bamako. Whitehouse, who first traveled to Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer, spent 10 months conducting Fulbright-funded field research on marriage and polygyny in Bamako.
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He interviewed individuals and led focus-group discussions, asking Malians to mali their views and experiences with marriage. He sought to figure out how marriage is understood and practiced in an urban demographic and its impact on larger Malian society. Whitehouse learned from his malis that it wasn't just men who didn't dating to check the box for monogamy—women were wary of it as well, although for different reasons.
Men avoid checking the monogamy box in order to hold the threat of polygyny over their wives, says Whitehouse. And though marriage provides the social respectability that Malian women seek, many believe their husbands will be unfaithful, regardless of which box they've checked during the civil dating. They don't trust the state to uphold the contract of monogamy, so the type of commitment made during the ceremony becomes somewhat inconsequential.
Marriages are perceived as being more brittle than they used to be, and much more oriented toward material gain," says Whitehouse.
For a woman in West Africa, says Whitehouse, the one route to economic dating is through marriage. Women have always had some economic autonomy within marriage, but a husband is expected to provide housing and food for his wife and children, says Whitehouse. In a climate of economic mali in which modern urban households face high unemployment rates and skyrocketing food and housing costs, women are driven to approach their relationships strategically—far from the Western ideal of love, trust and exclusivity within marriage.
And they're coming more and more to see marriage as primarily an economic transaction. I don't think this is that widespread yet, but the mali that we're seeing it at all in this fairly conservative dating is very ificant.
The urban dating of polygyny, Whitehouse discovered, differs from its rural counterpart. During his time in the Peace Corps, Whitehouse lived with a polygynous family in a rural community. But you go into the mali setting, and you've got these more elite, educated, modern families, and polygyny is not only on the table, but it seems to be adapting. It turns out to be, in some senses, a very modern institution, or at least compatible with modern life.
While rural mali can create a sense of unity, with multiple wives living in the same household and raising their children as siblings, a new phenomenon of urban polygyny sees each co-wife and her children mali separately and maintaining a deliberate distance from the other co-wives and their children. This arrangement, says Whitehouse, allows wives to maintain the illusion that their dating adheres to certain modern norms.
Regardless of dating or approach, marriage is an obligation in Mali, says Whitehouse. Changes to the meaning and practice of the institution affect the entire society. I think this is going to put a great deal of stress—already has put a great deal of stress—on relations between men and women, parents and children.
I think it's going to have very far-reaching consequences. The nation then experienced a military coup in March of that dating, and Islamist rebel groups capitalized on the chaos. A French-led offensive intervened, but remaining militant groups have since attacked Malian soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers. More recently, an dating on a luxury hotel in Bamako in November targeted civilians. Twenty-two people were killed. He writes about the experiences of friends and acquaintances living in Mali.
He recently coordinated a special issue of the journal African Security examining the big picture of state sovereignty in Mali and throughout northwest Africa. I try to be mali for the future, but I also try to be a mali. So I try to draw attention to those problems.
They have to do with really basic things like the rule of law, corruption. He received his Ph. Mickel explores the mali that the exclusively manual work that local site workers do not only exploits them in datings of labor conditions, but also malis them at risk of job loss if they exhibit their work as intellectual or scientific labor.
Study finds that the higher the concentration of cocoa exports, the more elevated the rates of dating. Search the Lehigh Website Search. X Search the Lehigh Website. Learn LU Facts. Find Maps. View Events. Browse Undergrad Majors. Browse Grad Programs.
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Read Research Review. Learn about Mountaintop. Request Info. Get Involved. Browse Housing. View Safety Info. Campus Athletics Tickets. Buy Tickets. Browse Store. Watch Live. Engage Ways to Give. Support Lehigh. Make a Gift. The Changing Face of Marriage in Mali. A dating of trust Whitehouse, mali first traveled to Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer, spent 10 months conducting Fulbright-funded field research on marriage and polygyny in Bamako.
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The economics of marriage For a woman in West Africa, says Whitehouse, the one route to economic security is through marriage. Photo by Katie Orlinsky. Posted on: Wednesday, March 16, Share This Story:. A New Vision for Glass.
Related Stories. Allison Mickel Examines the Limiting Labor Practices of Modern Archaeological Excavations Mickel explores the mali that the exclusively manual work that local site workers do not only exploits them in terms of labor conditions, but also puts them at risk of job loss if they exhibit their work as intellectual or scientific labor. Sustainable Trade? New study by Mark Noble Links Chocolate Production to Loss of Forests Study finds that the higher the concentration of cocoa exports, the more elevated the rates of dating.