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A Sanaʿa Court: The Family and the Ability to Negotiate

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In this article, I explore how social change has affected families in Sanaʿa, the capital of Yemen, drawing on court judgments and my observation of court cases in the family law section of a primary court. Social change has affected lower-class urban families by diminishing the significance of kinship relations for marital arrangements, and, more importantly, by reducing the family's embeddedness in surrounding social communities. As a result, the role of communities in the settlement of marital disputes has decreased, and such disputes are increasingly taken to court. In this context, the court appears to be less an arena for the (re)-negotiation of social ties and the reconciliation of spouses than for the dissolution of such ties and the normative assessment of familial roles.

Affiliations: 1: Freie Universität Berlin


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