Marking both connections and ruptures between people, families, and communities, the state and the home, the past and the future, intimate relationships and marriage in southern Africa offer unique insights into the management and production of social change.
Across southern Africa, intimate relationships are subject to constant social, moral, political, and emotional negotiation, scrutiny, and commentary. While public concern focuses on the potential ruptures threatened by increased rates of cohabitation, divorce, and non-(hetero)normative relationships, or the burdensome continuities of bridewealth payments, contemporary practices of intimacy seem to simultaneously preserve, disrupt and rework the practices of the past. From the colonial era through the era of AIDS, the management of these practices has been a central preoccupation of the state, churches, and civil society alike - underscoring the importance of intimate practices and relationships in shaping social change. This panel looks at the connections and disruptions wrought by intimacy and marriage on interpersonal, familial, national and transnational scales. We welcome work on everything from courtship to cohabitation, marriage and divorce, love and minority sexual rights, as well as on institutional intervention in related issues, from across southern Africa.