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Marriage Amongst Equals: An Analysis of the Marriage Ceremony of the Merina of Madagascar
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Author: Maurice E. F. Bloch.
Print ISSN: 1359-0987
Language: English
No. of Pages: 13
Dimensions: 154mm x 237mm x 1mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 514
Shelving Location: Periodicals: Natural History
Estimated Value: £5.00
Purchase Date: 12 March 2004
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Marriage Amongst Equals

An Analysis of the Marriage Ceremony of the Merina of Madagascar

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(1): pp. 21-33.
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1978).
Quarterbound Offprint


Marriage presents a problem where the respective status of affines should be equal. Except in the case of systems with direct exchange, it is an asymmetrical transaction in the short term and therefore introduces and element of hierarchy conflicting with equality. Merina marriage ceremonies are examined as an example of the way this contradiction is handled. This is by a ritual statement of the opposite hierarchy to that implied by the marriage and involves an unusual type of oratory. Several general anthropological questions are raised by this, concerning: 1) the relationship of ritual statements and secular statements; 2) the accepted views about gifts; and 3) marriage itself. It is suggested that if we look at marriages as transfers of people (not necessarily women) we find less variation between different systems as regards the relative status of affines than has normally been thought.


  • The author is from the London School of Economics & Political Science.
  • The "Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute" was formerly called "Man".

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