‘At least I am married’: Muslim-Christian marriage and gender in southwest Nigeria

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This article explores religious coexistence among the Yoruba of southwest Nigeria. It focuses on interfaith marriages, frequent especially between Muslim men and Christian women, as a practice that brings Islam and Christianity into a mutually productive relationship. The article explores the tension between the general understanding that interfaith marriage is a positive anchor of Muslim-Christian relations and the widespread individual scepticism towards such marriages. Rooted in distinct discourses, Muslim and Christian attitudes to interfaith marriage have undergone changes along different trajectories since the 1980s. At the same time, they share a ‘family resemblance’ because members of both religions emphasise the importance of marriage and its unequally gendered nature. The unequal and asymmetric relationships between the two religions constitute part of a wider religious field, where the shared belief in the importance of conjugality is central to the gendered social order. Thus, even though Muslim-Christian marriages are often understood as problematic, they are still seen as less problematic than the failure to marry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-450
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Anthropology / Anthropologie Sociale
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Muslim–Christian relations
  • Yoruba
  • gender
  • interfaith marriage
  • religious field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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