‘Money has More Weight than the Man’: Masculinities in the Marriages of Angolan War Veterans


  • John Spall

    1. PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, working on a thesis on masculinities amongst war veterans in Huambo, Angola.
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    • I would like to thank Mark Leopold, Andrea Cornwall, Maria Abranches and Santiago Ripoll for their helpful comments on drafts of this article. I also gratefully acknowledge the support of the Fundação de Ciência e Tecnologia in Portugal for funding this research.


This article discusses how male Angolan war veterans navigated the sudden shift from the rigours of military discipline to life in a civilian society they no longer recognised, where money had become a dominant social value. Based on a year of participant observation and interviews with war veterans in the city of Huambo, it traces their life histories and their post-war struggles to develop the necessary creativity and initiative to make a profit in a disordered, war-torn economy, where masculine status and authority had come to depend crucially on monetary income. I analyse their reaction to the crumbling of the relative certainties of the patriarchal orders of both pre-war society and military life, and the associated anxieties around living up to a senior masculine archetype of the wise, authoritative provider whilst attempting to ensure that their wives’ behaviour conformed to the family model that accompanies this archetype.