Chapter 4 examines marital relations in indigenous communities of highland Mexico. The first part of the chapter reveals the social, political, and economic significance of marriage to shed light on marital expectations and obligations. The chapter also considers informal unions, and the circumstances that gave rise to these types of arrangements. The second section of the chapter examines marital conflicts and domestic violence that developed in failed relationships. Formal and informal attempts to resolve disputes illustrate cultural expectations and attitudes about one’s rights within a relationship. The study reveals a complex process of negotiation among husbands and wives, their households, and local native officials, in which women sometimes aired their grievances before the community. Chapter 4 argues that the criminal prosecution of wife-beating suggests that domestic violence, especially when it was deemed excessive, was not condoned in indigenous communities.
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