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Centre of African Studies: Events


Exploring Event-ethics in Weddings in Botswana; an ethnography of elasticity?

Exploring Event-ethics in Weddings in Botswana; an ethnography of elasticity?
Speaker: Dr. Rijk van Dijk # University of Leiden
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Date and Time
22nd Mar 2017 16:00 - 22nd Mar 2017 17:30
Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Ground floor, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square

This paper aims to situate the study of weddings in Botswana in the anthropological exploration of what have become known (cf. Lambek) as 'ordinary' or 'everyday ethics'. Whereas that anthropology is interested in exploring the social space that exists between explicit ethical judgements, and rather implicit and tacit ethical practices in everyday situations, this paper aims to draw attention to special events and the manner in which these bring out such tacit ethical concerns in a different way. Weddings in Botswana are moments in the social life of the individual, the family and the community that produce particular event-ethics which on the one hand concern the glamourous, consumerist styling, the protocol and the social prestige of these occasions, but which on the other hand produce specific tacit concerns that are expressed in particular ways. By focusing on a specific ritual practice that takes place during the extensive wedding ceremony, the expression of such tacit and implict ethical concerns can be noticed. This particular ritual practice appears to provoke ethical concerns that can only be expressed in a rather inobtrusive manner so that existing power-relations that govern these special occasions remain undistrubed. This seems to suggest that special events - such as these weddings are - can create a specific sense of 'elasticity' of the space there is, locally and culturally, for expressing ethical concerns that may otherwise not exist in everyday situations. 

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