International Journal of Middle East Studies


The Dowry as Capital Accumulation among Sephardic Jews of Istanbul, Turkey

Mark Glazera1

a1 Pan-American University, Edinburg, Texas

The dowry is the movement of women and goods in the same direction (Goody 1973: 18). Or, as Tambiah puts it, ‘Wherever dowry is paid, wealth is not transferred in one direction and women in the other, for both wealth and women travel in the same direction’ (1973: 62). This one-sided exchange is rather curious as one side in the transaction gets all the values while the other seems to give them all away. A person who gives a dowry as a father has once received a dowry as a groom. As a consequence of his once being a receiver he has an obligation to his daughter to be the giver of a dowry. Unlike other types of wife-giving and wife-receiving, in this system it is individuals and not lineages or families who give and receive women. As a consequence alliances between families are not formed.