M2 "The Quiet Mobility of Women. Patterns and Strategies of Marital Networks in Northern Afghanistan and South Central Asia"

Ayfer Durdu
Ingeborg Baldauf

According to the customs in rule all over Crossroads Asia, women and daughters are of high real and symbolic value in the social web of gift and counter-gift obligations. The consolidation of existing kinship ties through a continuous exchange of brides across generations may be achieved as well as next door as at great geographical distance or even over State borders.

Marriage is also a strategy in order to enlarge the social network of a domestic group; polygyny, in particular, allows men to achieve multiple alliances within and across ethnic, regional and political boundaries through the establishment of new kinship ties. Bonds between men within religious patron-client groups (Sufi orders, radical Islamic groups etc.) are further tightened through giving away daughters or sisters, in a similar way as in secular political and paramilitary factions.

Among some local groups ‘gifting away’ women into marriage is even an established legal praxis in enforcing conflict resolution.

And even when these conditions are not met, the princip of virilocality entails that women are required, at least once in their life, to be subject to mobility through marriage in a decisive and sustainable way – a rule that has no systematic equivalent in men's life.

Kinship ties established through marriage lay the ground for the social, economical and political relationships between the groom's and bride's groups.

Although in local discourse the agnatic descent line prevails in kinship representations and in exercising solidarity – an aspect that is overrated by scholarly studies – ties through the uterine line and in a broader sense through women within the parentele are obviously of greater social potency than generally assumed.    

The project aims at finding out, in a network analysis perspective, what concrete role play the relations established through feminine line, by documenting and analysing practices and discourses in this regard.

Die verwandtschaftlichen Bindungen, die durch die Heirat etabliert werden, bilden die Basis für soziale, wirtschaftliche und politische Beziehungen zwischen den Gruppen von Braut und Bräutigam. Obwohl in lokalen Diskursen die Repräsentationen von Verwandtschaft und die Zuschreibung von Wichtigkeit bzw. Bedeutungslosigkeit der Abstammungslinie für die Herstellung von Solidarität klar die Agnaten präferiert (und solche Sichtweisen oftmals in wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten übernommen werden), ist von einer besonderen Wirkmächtigkeit von Verbindungen über die uterine Deszendenzlinie und im weiteren Sinne über die Frauen der Verwandtschaftsverbände auszugehen. Ziel des Projekts ist, unter Zugrundelegung eines netzwerktheoretischen Ansatzes zu erforschen, welche praktische Bedeutung den über die weibliche Linie etablierten Beziehungen zukommt; begleitend sollen auch die dazu gehörenden Diskurse dokumentiert und ins Verhältnis gesetzt werden.