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Critical geographies of love and loss: relational responses to the death of a spouse in Senegal

Evans, R. ORCID: (2021) Critical geographies of love and loss: relational responses to the death of a spouse in Senegal. Emotion, Space and Society, 39. 100774. ISSN 1755-4586

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2021.100774


Marriage practices in the Majority world may differ considerably from dominant cultural ideals in the Minority world of ‘romantic love’ and ‘companionate marriage’ based on monogamous relationships. Similarly, mourning in the ‘Rest’ of the world often diverges from assumptions within Anglophone bereavement studies of a ‘grieving journey’. This paper provides a gendered, spatial, relational analysis of responses to the death of a spouse in Senegal, based on in-depth interviews with Serer women and men in rural and urban communities. A heightened sense of relationality with the deceased surrounded widows’ bodies, with permeable boundaries that needed to be contained and “purified” through widowhood-mourning practices in order to restore social cohesion. For men, the space of the home was transformed, sometimes unbearably, by the loss of a wife and mother due to their central role in home-making practices, transforming men’s relational being. ‘Embodied relationality’, alongside material constraints, also shaped perspectives on remarriage. The paper reveals the diverse material, embodied, spatial, and often explicitly gendered, ways that the effects of the death of a spouse may be manifested in the experience of the living person and draws attention to the permeable embodied boundaries of ‘relational being’ that encompass the living and the dead.

Item Type:Article
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:95867
Uncontrolled Keywords:Geographies of love Companionate marriage Mourning and loss Embodied relationality Materiality Feminist ethnography Senegal, West Africa


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