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What does it mean to be alone?

Allerton, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0002-1463-4157 (2007) What does it mean to be alone? In: Astuti, Rita, Parry, Jonathan and Stafford, Charles, (eds.) Questions of Anthropology. LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology (76). Berg (Firm), Oxford, UK, 1 - 28. ISBN 9781845207489

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Identification Number: 10.4324/9781003086482-1


This chapter discusses what it means to be ‘alone’ in particular ethnographic and historical contexts by considering the status of unmarried women. As countless instances in music, film and literature indicate, the spinster is often viewed as an icon of loneliness. Indeed, despite fairly high and consistent rates of non-marriage amongst both men and women, the never-married woman has long held a problematic status in much of Euro-American culture. The chapter is concerned only with women who have never been married, not with widows or the divorced who, in any case, are fairly thin on the ground in Catholic Flores. Perhaps the most crucial issue with regard to defining singlewomen is the age at which ‘spinsterhood’ can be said to be permanent. Unlike the more heavily-policed situation of unmarried women in some Muslim areas of Southeast Asia, singlewomen in Manggarai have a great deal of independence and freedom, a situation which only becomes easier as they age.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 The Editors
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2008
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:11

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