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Morality at the MarginsYouth, Language, and Islam in Coastal Kenya$
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Sarah Hillewaert

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286515

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286515.001.0001

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Senses of Morality and Morality of the Senses

Senses of Morality and Morality of the Senses

Chapter:
(p.191) Chapter 5 Senses of Morality and Morality of the Senses
Source:
Morality at the Margins
Author(s):

Sarah Hillewaert

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823286515.003.0009

Non-verbal communication, while never separate from verbal communication, has a distinct signifying value in the context of Lamu. Because the exchange of verbal greetings carries implications for an individual’s respectability, individuals frequently rely on non-verbal language to communicate while in public. Chapter Five therefore looks at how material practices and the moving body are implicated in the negotiation of social change and the emergence of new social positionings. It examines how young men and women in Lamu differently use material and bodily practices—e.g. stride, walking route, hand greetings, gaze, clothing—to gradually redefine norms of proper conduct and social status. A closer look at young women’s use of handshakes, the ethnographic vignette of a young female professional accused of immoral conduct, and the story of a beach boy who becomes a local politician illustrate the different means through which young people negotiate a respectful positions within the Lamu community. The theoretical discussion in this chapter focuses on gender, material practice, and the moving body in relation to ideologies of moral personhood and notions of modernity.

Keywords:   embodiment, gender, greetings, materiality

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