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Diasporic Romance; Marriage, Consumerism and Ghanaian Experiences in Botswana

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Building on the current scholarly interest in romantic migration and romantic diasporas, this paper starts by exploring forms of mobility but does not take the movement of people as the paradigmatic point of departure. Instead, it highlights the travelling of ideas, models and objects, especially the way these are informed by romantic notions concerning relationships and how they can be styled in global consumerist fashions. By looking at Ghanaian migration to Botswana and how certain romantic ideals concerning beauty have been exchanged with the local society and the way Ghanaians have started to marry Batswana partners in recent years, a mobility of ideas, objects and images can be analyzed. While a new marital economy has emerged in Botswana as a result of the growth of middle-class-oriented consumerist lifestyles, Ghanaian immigrants have both contributed to the new models of romance as much as they have also become subject to such models in their engagement with Botswana society. This paper argues that the notion of diasporic romance implies more than just people migrating for romantic reasons and it calls for further exploration of the diasporic nature of the modeling and consumerist styling of marriages in a modern African society.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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