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About this product
- DescriptionThrough a judicious use of archival material from all levels of the empire...and oral interviews with approximately one hundred Gabonese, the author demonstrates that the growth of the city and the French empire cant be convincingly written without a full account of the women and men who lived there, their struggles to form intimate relationships, and the strains that resulted from those relationships...Conjugal Rights has much to offer readers, more than can be discussed here. Those interested in sexuality, gender, marriage, law, colonialism, and urban history- and t just in an African context-will be richly rewarded by the book. - American Historical ReviewConjugal Rights is a history of the role of marriage and other arrangements between men and women in Libreville, Gabon, during the French colonial era, from the mid-nineteenth century through 1960. Conventional historiography has depicted women as few in number and of limited influence in African colonial towns, but this book demonstrates that a sexual ecomy of emotional, social, legal, and physical relationships between men and women indelibly shaped urban life. Bridewealth became a motor of African ecomic activity, as men and women promised, earned, borrowed, transferred, and absconded with money to facilitate interpersonal relationships. Colonial rule increased the fluidity of customary marriage law, as chiefs and colonial civil servants presided over multiple courts, and city residents strategically chose the legal arena in which to arbitrate a conjugal-sexual conflict. Sexual and domestic relationships with European men allowed some African women to achieve a greater degree of ecomic and social mobility. An eventual decline of marriage rates resulted in new sexual mores, as women and men sought to rebalance the roles of pleasure, respectability, and legality in having sex outside of kin-sanctioned marriage. Rachel Jean-Baptiste expands the discourse on sexuality in Africa and challenges conventional understandings of urban history beyond the study of the built environment. Marriage and sexual relations determined how people defined themselves as urbanites and shaped the shifting physical landscape of Libreville. Conjugal Rights takes a fresh look at questions of the historical construction of race and ethnicity. Despite the efforts of the French colonial government and society to enforce boundaries between black and white, interracial sexual and domestic relationships persisted. Black and metisse women gained ecomic and social capital from these relationships, allowing some measure of freedom in the colonial capital city.
- Author BiographyRachel Jean-Baptiste is an assistant professor of African history at the University of California, Davis. Her articles have appeared in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Journal of Women's History, and the Journal of African History.
- Author(s)Rachel Jean-Baptiste
- PublisherOhio University Press
- Date of Publication02/09/2014
- SubjectGender Studies / Gay & Lesbian Studies
- Series TitleNew African Histories
- Place of PublicationOhio
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintOhio University Press
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations, black & white line drawings, maps, figures
- Weight386 g
- Width3887 mm
- Height5817 mm
- Spine585 mm
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