Changing Webs of Kinship: Spotlights on West Africa

Erdmute Alber, Tabea Häberlein, Jeannett Martin


Changes in kinship relations are part of the broad social change in all African societies. This article highlights trends and characteristics of changing kinship relations in West Africa. Its analysis focuses on the twentieth century, which was shaped by the colonial conquest and profound societal transformations like the political independence of the African colonies. In analysing three important kinship relations – parent–child relations, marriage, and care for the elderly – this article depicts the trends and conditions of historical change of these relationships. It also shows whether and how these changes are accompanied by conflict, and how people refer to the different ways of dealing with those conflicts. The article is based on empirical data from three thematically intertwined research projects.

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