The Power of Being : A Study of Poverty, Fertility and Sexuality among the Kuria in Kenya and Tanzania

Sammanfattning: The study is concerned with power based on ‘being’, which is the thread running through the entire thesis. The extended family is the focal point and three themes, interrelated in Kuria society, are explored, namely, poverty, sexuality and fertility. Poverty, one of the focuses, implies giving attention to local perceptions of destitution and prosperity, the grappling with issues about access to, and control of, resources, the pointing out of impoverishing mechanisms inherent in traditional socioeconomic systems and the exemplifying of critical strategies to overcome poverty. In addition to displaying mechanisms of impoverishment, the thesis specifies vulnerable categories of individuals and informs on contemporary strategies to overcome destitution. Since Kuria has got recognition as being a patriarchal society, which has lead to a depiction of reality implying a de-emphasizing of principles mediating male dominance, the study throws light upon principles restraining male power and on compelling female recourses in situations of transgressions of cultural codes. The study provides empirical examples demonstrating formal cursing as a powerful female recourse in contexts of male abuse of power. ‘Power of being’ is dramatically manifested when women curse in their capacity of being married daughters and sisters. The Kuria woman marriage has been investigated, and the author concludes that besides from being a strategy by women who are excluded from priviledged categories to overcome poverty and humiliation, the woman marriage reveals female aspirations to male spheres of power and status. Through the woman marriage it might be possible for women to own homesteads and to become lineage founders. Sexuality and fertility form intriguing parts of male and female being. In order to expose values at the heart of society with regard to male and female sexuality, symbols articulated by metaphors are explored.

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