Accepted paper:

Women's divorce trajectories in Senegal

Authors:

Annelien Bouland (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper draw on the concept of social navigation to explore how, in matters of divorce, Senegalese women move and adapt in an environment characterised by legal plurality and an insistence on harmony, in which, next to the spouse, family members, neighbours and friends, play a key role.

Paper long abstract:

In Senegal, marriage and divorce are not commonly a matter of the court and the family code - implemented in 1972 -has only limited relevance. Several authors have proposed that this is due to its limited popular legitimacy, and indeed, since its creation, the code been criticized for failing to respect Islamic norms. Taken together, this raises the question as to how people do marry and divorce. This paper focuses on women's divorce trajectories, specifically. On the basis of the case of 'Ami' I explore how women move in an environment characterised by legal plurality and an insistence on harmony, in which, next to the spouse, family members, neighbours and friends, play a key role. In my analysis, I draw on the concept of social navigation (Vigh 2009; Vigh 2006) to highlight how women move and adapt in a moving environment, made up of different legal and normative orders but also of different social embeddedness and social horizons. Doing so, I argue that the concept of social navigation is a useful tool for analyzing how people act in environments where different legal and normative orders co-exist. The paper draws on material collected during a twelve month fieldwork period (2016-2017) in the secondary city of Tivaouane, Senegal.

panel Law03
Law in Africa: charting one's course of action in a field of multiple normative orders