Labour of love: Secrecy and kinship among Ghanaian-Dutch and Somali-Dutch in The Netherlands /
Credits: Gabriela Bustamante

How do secrets play a role in the intimate relations between mothers and daughters or between marriage partners? And how to understand secrecy in relation to love and intimacy? Amisah Bakuri and Rachel Spronk , in  a paper they co-author with Rijk van Dijk, explore how people negotiate moral expectations regarding sexuality, respect, and loyalty, while also maneuvering to fulfill their personal aspirations.

The paper examines the productive role of secrecy in the nexus of transnational mobility, kinship, and intimate relations among Ghanaian-Dutch and Somali-Dutch in the Netherlands. Whereas secrecy is typically understood as one person concealing knowledge from another, implying the latter’s passivity, they argue that secrecy depends on mutually constitutive interactions. Secrecy is explored as the result of an interaction between those who obscure knowledge in creative ways and those who maintain a not-knowing. Bakuri and Spronk argue in the paper that, especially in kinship relations, when people are bound to each other by moral and social obligations, the management of secrecy often makes people mutually dependent. Secrecy is revealed as skillfully choreographing relations by the ebb and flow of information where kinship, respect, or love and (not-) knowing reinforce another.

The article can be accessed here: