Especially in patrilineal and virilocal societies, women have long been considered to be “in between” the paternal and affinal patrilineages. For this reason, women occupy a liminal status and are considered dangerous or impure outsiders in many societies. Moreover, their assumed impurity is the basis of taboos for women and requires certain rituals of incorporation to be carried out for them at certain times during their life cycle. The present article focuses on the supposed impurity of women among the Maale of southern Ethiopia. Trying to find explanations for the impurity attributed to women in this part of the world, it shows the complex connections between ideas of “foreignness,” mobility, and “impurity,” their manifestation in women's taboos, and their overcoming through rituals of integration.

You do not currently have access to this content.