Fragile bonds: an ethnographic investigation of marriage-making amongst Muslims in Cairo
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This thesis is based upon ethnographic fieldwork on the process of becoming married in Cairo. It focuses specifically upon the experiences of Cairene Muslims, and centres on the profound sense of anxiety and uncertainty which so frequently surrounds the marriage-making process. This thesis is an attempt to make sense of the salience of these emotions, against a backdrop of economic and political instability, a broader interest in modesty and decorum, and public concern about an alleged ‘marriage crisis’. It also explores the various ways in which prospective affines seek to manage the pervasive sense of anxiety and uncertainty associated with the production of marriage in Cairo. To this end, the thesis examines the ways in which phenomena, ranging from assessments about the ‘suitability’ of a given conjugal home to the perceived outcome of a particular form of petitionary prayer, enter into decisions about whom to marry and come to affect confidence in a given choice. The thesis thus presents a complex picture of the agency of prospective affines, and pays particular attention to the relationship between agency and knowledge.