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Accepted Paper:

Marriage as entitlement: Middle-class Namibians reflecting on their parents’ (non-)marriages  
Julia Pauli (University of Hamburg)

Paper short abstract:

Despite very low marriage rates, middle-class Namibians feel entitled to marry. The paper explores how through the (non-)marital histories of one’s parents, this privilege is being legitimized.

Paper long abstract:

Within only fifty years, marriage in Namibia has changed from an inexpensive and common institution into a costly and exclusive celebration of status of the emerging middle- and upper-classes. I was thus surprised when most of my interlocutors in Namibia’s capital Windhoek in 2015 and 2016 told me that of course they knew that they would marry. In my paper, I explore how my interlocutors justified this conviction. A central threat of their reasoning dealt with their parents’ marriages or non-marriages, always also considering the parents’ social class. Interlocutors with married parents perceived their parents’ marriages as moral justifications for their own privileges and their entitlement to marry. Contrary to this, interlocutors coming from economically marginalized families with unmarried parents reasoned that their personal distinctions from their parents and kin legitimized their marital entitlement. Ideas of generational continuity and rupture thus both informed the multiple ways in which middle-class Namibians reflected on (their) marriage(s) in a rapidly transforming postcolonial society.

Panel P025a
The Hope of Marriage: Transforming Intimate Worlds and Social Futures I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -