Working Paper 28

The political economy of an Azeri wedding

Lale Yalçin-Heckmann

Abteilung ‚Resilienz und Transformation in Eurasien’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 28

This paper looks at the significance and political economy of Azerbaijani weddings using a case study of different stages of marriage negotiations, wedding preparations and dowry exchange. Postsocialist Azerbaijan is characterized by unemployment and money shortage, thus the enormous expense of wedding parties and marriage payments are striking. Unlike in former times of secure jobs and steady incomes, the expectations of taking part in conspicuous consumption may mean taking out large loans and activating and spreading one's social networks across kin, neighbours and friends. The case study shows how social inequalities and hierarchies among family members and kin may take new forms and be challenged throughout the various stages of the preparations for wedding parties. Moreover wife-takers and wife-givers try to use the payments and the wedding arrangements for redefining their mutual status positions. The transfer of property and its symbolic meaning therefore not only contributes to the establishment and shaping of wife-giver and wife-taker families, it also has ramifications for inner familiar hierarchies and gender roles.

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