The hearthhold in pastoral Fulbe society, central Mali : social relations, milk and drought

TitleThe hearthhold in pastoral Fulbe society, central Mali : social relations, milk and drought
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsM.E. de Bruijn
Secondary TitleAfrica : journal of the International African InstituteAfrica
Pagination625 - 651
Date Published1997///
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsfemale-headed households, Fulani, gender, Mali, marriage, Social security, women

In pastoral Fulbe society in central Mali women had, and to some degree still have, an important social and economic role, concentrated on a 'milk economy' organized through a female-headed, women-centred unit, called 'fayannde' or 'hearthhold'. In a society of seminomadic pastoralists who live most of the year in small social units, social relations and networks are crucial to the success of their main survival strategy: transhumant cattle keeping. This article, which is based on field research carried out from March 1990 to March 1992 among the Jallube, one of the four main Fulbe lineages in central Mali, explores Fulbe social organization from a female perspective. It reveals the importance of the hearthhold in the social and material security of its members and of Fulbe society as a whole. An analysis of marriage gifts shows how important the 'fayannde' is not only to the social organization of the Jallube, but also to their economic viability. The article also demonstrates that the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s have had an enormous impact on the Jallube and on the way they perceive their social organization. The existence of the 'fayannde' is endangered by the decline in milk production and by the collapse of social care relations as a result of impoverishment. The erosion of the 'fayannde' may lead to a transformation of gender relations, marriage ceremonies, and the social security of women. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French

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Citation Key2099