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Marriage patterns in a black Utopia: Evidence from early nineteenth-century colonial Sierra Leone

Journal article
Authors Stefania Galli
Published in The History of the Family
ISSN 1081-602X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1080/1081602X.20...
Keywords West Africa, social homogamy, Sierra Leone, marriage patterns, social divide
Subject categories Economic History, Demography, History

Abstract

The colony of Sierra Leone was characterized by an unusually heterogeneous population made up of immigrants. The diverse population and the dynamics that led to its creation constitute a valuable case study for mating theories. This article examines the determinants of marriage patterns in early nineteenth-century urban Sierra Leone relying on census data. The degree to which marriage-market constraints and preferences influenced marriage patterns is studied. The results of this study suggest that marriage-market constraints contributed to explaining marriage patterns. However, even in a newly founded and multicultural context as that of urban Sierra Leone, social homogamy based on ascribed characteristics was the most prevalent marriage arrangement, in spite of the disruption of kin relations caused by slavery and migration.

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