until further notice
SourceAfrica, 74, 1, (2004), pp. 6-27
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectDynamics of culture and power
This article focuses on relationships between grandmothers and grandchildren in an urban society in East Cameroon. It argues that despite fluid generational demarcations between grandmothers and mothers, women perform their grandmotherhood differently from their motherhood. As a result of the claims grandmothers often make on their children's children, grandmothers easily replace mothers but they do not rear children in the same way. The sharing of home, food, and bed is central in the performance of grandmotherhood and differs from relationships of sharing in the mother–child bond. The article also argues that grandmotherhood in East Cameroon is not a clearly bounded, unambiguous life stage but that it contains multiple trajectories that do not occur in the same time or in the same order. Multiple trajectories, characterised by both agency and constraint, are explained in terms of differences within and between grandmothers' life courses. The article shows that grandmothers play vital roles in complex practices of marriage and descent and, in contrast to previous studies in the area, that matrilineages are closely linked to patrilineages.
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