Marriage as Crisis

Revisiting a Major Dispute among Hadhramis in Indonesia

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
Author: Martin Slama1
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  • 1 Austrian Academy of Sciences
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Disputes over marriage rules triggered perhaps the most significant crisis in the history of the Hadhrami diaspora in Indonesia. Once this trade diaspora had become integrated into the colonial economy of the nineteenth century, rules that emphasized endogamy, especially for women, were questioned by those Hadhramis influenced by Islamic reformism, resulting in a schism of the community. This article revisits the marriage issue by looking at current disputes among Hadhramis, and at how the initial crisis has become institutionalized as well as engrained in collective memory. It also examines what upholding these rules implies for young women today, with personal crises triggered by difficulties in finding suitable marriage partners. The article's main argument rests upon a conception of crisis that attends to its latent character, to its longevity and recurrent appearance, and sees it as inherent to the intricacies of Hadhrami marriage.


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