Siria's Reviews > Girl Cases: Marriage and Colonialism in Gusiiland, Kenya, 1890-1970

Girl Cases by Brett L. Shadle
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's review
Jan 23, 2011

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bookshelves: african-history, history, nonfiction, womens-history
Read from January 23 to February 03, 2011

Shadle's history of Gusii marriage in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries focuses mostly on the arguments—legal and otherwise—as to what constituted a proper marriage, and how men and women defended their rights to form or dissolve such unions. As well as examining the local economic and social contexts which shaped Gusii marriage, Shadle also analyses wider debates, in Kenya and elsewhere in the British Empire, as to the status of African women and the proper way in which to "modernise" Africa. It's an interesting book, especially in its focus on rural communities, but I would have liked slightly less focus on the economic data—as relevant as it is—and more on examining the court cases and on gendered differences in ideas about marriage. Shadle examines young men and women who were marrying, and the influence which older men had on marriage choices—yet where are the older women? Whether they had influence or not, they are never examined either way. There's lots of interesting information here, but I don't think Shadle pushed it as much as he could have.

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02/02/2011 page 42
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