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Products for grant FT-264924-19

Singing Wives and Silent Widows: An Ethnographic Study of Marriage in West Africa
Joanna Davidson, Boston University

Grant details:

The Problem of Widows (Article)
Title: The Problem of Widows
Author: Joanna Davidson
Abstract: How does an ethnographer inquire about a social category that is neither named nor recognized as such? The Jola language has no word for widow even though more than a third of households in the Jola villages of Guinea-Bissau are occupied by women whose husbands have died. Over years of fieldwork I attempted a series of explanations to account for why widows were not named or even seen by Jola villagers. Chronicling how each of my explanations was undercut by both Jola responses and my own critical scrutiny, I expose the impasses of an ethnographic quest and show the gradual process of gaining insights into experiences that cannot be encapsulated by either local or anthropological models. The unspeakable can signal not only profound fragilities in social relations but also openings for new social formations beyond the normative bounds of received cultural categories.
Year: 2020
Primary URL: http://
Primary URL Description: American Ethnologist website
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: American Ethnologist
Publisher: American Ethnologist