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The legal anthropology of marriage in Ghana: Presenting power dynamics through legal arenas

Author: 
Elijah Tukwarlba Yin and Jenna Marie Black
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

This paper delves into the legal anthropology of marriage in Ghana. The socio-legal aspect of this topic is less explored in Ghana although law seems quite often instrumentalized in marriage politics. The paper discusses how ‘power’ is acquired, shared, transferred, and wielded in marriage – all in terms of rights, duties and obligations. This paper draws on empirical literature, local experiences and indigenous knowledge. We argue that one of the pillars through which men legitimize ‘power’ is through the payment of bride price -which comes in the form of a legal framing. However, this power can be transferred or shared depending on the economic power of the spouses involved. Our analysis showed that though there are rules and regulations that guide marriages in Ghana members are not absolutely bound by tradition to follow such norms since at times members deviate from such traditional norms. The paper further shows that the marriage arena where at times rules are negotiated also provides an indispensable frame of reference for local identity and the display of cultural variables. In effect, families mobilize law in order to frame the marriage process which intend becomes another standard for local legal measurement.

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