Corporate authority, exchange, and personal opposition in Bobo marriages



This article explores the bases of corporate authority and personal autonomy in marriage decisions among the Bobo, a West African people with a double-descent system. Elder men and women allocate young women within the uterine descent group, thereby constraining the choices of partners and creating patterns that are consistent with the desire to maintain control over dependents. These practices, however, are continuously challenged by young people who advocate divergent perspectives and whose opposition is facilitated by the support of other types of kin. The emergence of wealth differences and the effect of administration and missionary activity contributed to dissension against the men and women who have positions of authority within lineage segments, at the same time as it reduced the solidarity among them. [kinship, social organization, double descent, rural transformation, West Africa]