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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Money Breaks Blood Ties': Chiefs' Courts and the Transition from Lineage Debt to Commercial Debt in Sipolilo District
Author:Smith, Randal
Year:1998
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Volume:24
Issue:3
Period:September
Pages:509-526
Language:English
Geographic terms:Zimbabwe
Great Britain
Subjects:colonialism
lawsuits
debt
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637658
Abstract:By focusing on the politics of legal disputation, the author examines how a new legal concept - commercial debt - was introduced into a precommercial setting, viz. the northeastern district of Sipolilo, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and how that concept was transferred from the field of commercial law to that of family law. The author starts with an analysis of the dramatic surge in commercial debt cases, in particular between 1953 and 1963, and then describes the subsequent equally dramatic increase in noncommercial debt cases (largely in matrimonial disputes), in the Native Commissioner's court. By tracing developments in civil disputes, the dynamics of the district's moral economy are illuminated. The reasons for the increase of debt cases in each field of law are examined. The article shows that the new forms of (contractual) marriage relations radically transformed the central Shona social institution of 'roora' marriage which involved the collateral transfer of resources. The courts played a crucial role in transferring the new concept of commercial debt from the field of commercial law to that of family law. Note, ref, sum.
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