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Matriliny, Islam and Gender in Northern Mozambique

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Using gender as the major line of difference, the paper examines the diversity within Islam in northern Mozambique, in which, despite strong historical ties to the Swahili world and waves of Islamic expansion, as well as attempts to establish and police an Islamic 'orthodoxy', matriliny continues to be one of the main cultural features. Concentrating on two coastal regions, Mozambique Island and Angoche, and on three urban zones of the modern provincial capital, Nampula City, the paper addresses the reasons for the endurance of matriliny, through historical processes that brought about different currents of Islam, and discusses the ways in which the colonial and post-colonial state, while attempting to control the often conflicting Islamic and African 'traditional' authorities, have contributed to the perpetuation of this conflict as well as to the endurance of matriliny.


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