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Widowhood and asset inheritance among the Serer in Senegal

Evans, R. ORCID: (2019) Widowhood and asset inheritance among the Serer in Senegal. In: M’Baye, B. and Muhonja, B. B. (eds.) Gender and Sexuality in Senegalese Societies. Critical Perspective and Methods,. Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, pp. 145-173.

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The death of a male head of household may lead to significant economic and emotional insecurity for widows and children. Drawing on feminist qualitative research with 20 Serer families, religious and community leaders and professionals in Greater Dakar and rural communities in Fatick and Diourbel regions, this chapter explores the relationship between gender norms, religious and cultural practices of widowhood and asset inheritance in Senegal. In both rural and urban areas, widowhood-mourning was characterised by a period of withdrawal from household and community life, which potentially exacerbated the family's poverty. The inheritance of land, housing, financial assets and other resources was usually based on a syncretism of religious and customary practices, underpinned by patrilineal rules that often disadvantaged women and girls. While inheritance disputes were rare, they appeared more likely to occur in urban areas, especially between co-wives in polygamous unions and their children. Women's property rights were both constrained and enabled by religious and customary inheritance practices and the plural legal framework in Senegal. This reveals the importance of an intersectional analysis of widows' social location, which pays attention to their differing access to, and inheritance of, land, property, financial and other assets in diverse urban and rural environments.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Human Environments
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:103023
Uncontrolled Keywords:Widowhood Bereavement Property rights Asset inheritance Legal pluralism Gender relations
Publisher:Rowman and Littlefield

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