Publisher: African Studies Association

Polygyny and Christian Marriage In Africa: The Case of Benin

Douglas J. Falen
KEYWORDS: Polygyny and Christian Marriage in Africa: The Case of Benin

ABSTRACT:

Since the arrival of European missionaries in Africa, there has been charged debate over people's marriage choices. This article outlines the major elements in the academic, theological, and popular discourses on marriage in Africa, focusing on two topics: the conceptual divide between monogamous Christian marriage and African polygyny, and the claim that women automatically prefer monogamy. By comparing the assumptions in the literature with ethnographic data from the Republic of Benin, this article demonstrates that marital choices cannot necessarily be predicted by a person's gender and rarely are characterized by a definitive conceptual divide. Instead, personal motives related to economics, prestige, and competition for power are the main factors in marriage choices.




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