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Creating Illegitimacy: Negotiating Relations and Reproduction within Christian Contexts in Northwest Namibia

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Abstract The stigmatization of children born out of wedlock is not yet common in the rural community of Fransfontein, Northwest Namibia. Comparable to other regions of southern Africa, the birth of a child is very much valued and welcomed regardless of the parent’s marital status, and out-of-wedlock births are very widespread. However, these perceptions are gradually changing. During Sunday mass in the local Protestant church the term /ai-/gôas(b), ‘sin child’, is increasingly being used to name children originating from extramarital affairs of wealthy married men. This moral discourse is sustained by elite men’s wives, who fear their husbands’ out-of-wedlock children will place claims on their husbands’ wealth. The central aim of the paper is to understand these emerging moral evaluations and discuss their implications as well as creations of novel Christian spaces and new forms of distinction and exclusion.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Social Anthropology Hamburg University Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, Flügelbau West (ESA W), 20146 Hamburg Germany


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