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PART 5 KINSHIP AND FAMILY
The introduction to Part 5 reviews a variety of basic concepts anthropologists use to describe kinship systems.
Kinship is the complex system of culturally defined social relationships based on marriage, the principle of affinity, and birth, the principle of consanguinity.
Affinity refers to relationships through marriage.
Consanguinity refers to relationships by blood.
Descent is a kinship rule that ties people together on the basis of reputed common ancestry. Patrilineal descent is a descent rule linking consanguine relatives together through males only. Matrilineal descent is a descent rule linking relatives together through females only.
Bilateral descent is a descent rule linking relatives together through both males and females simultaneously.
Descent groups are groups based on a descent rule.
A lineage is a localized group that is based on unilineal (patrilineal or matrilineal) descent and which usually has some corporate powers.
A clan is a descent group based on a unilineal rule of descent that is composed of lineages and whose members cannot always trace their genealogical relationship to all others.
Phratries are large unilineal kin groups made up of clans.
Ramages are cognatic kin groups based on bilateral descent, which resemble lineages in size and function but provide more recruiting flexibility.
A family is a kin group made up of at least one married couple sharing the same residence with their children and performing sexual, reproductive, economic, and educational functions. Instructors should note that this traditional definition excludes single parent families and blended families and may be amended to take these into account.
A nuclear family is a kind of family consisting of just one married couple and their children. An extended family is a family made up of two or more married couples and their children.
Marriage is the socially approved union of two people that confers sexual rights and legitimizes children.
Exogamy means marriage outside a specified group.
Endogamy means marriage inside a specified group.
Monogamy is a kind of marriage in which one man is married to one woman.
Polygamy is a kind of marriage in which one person is married to more than one person simultaneously.
Polygyny is a kind of marriage in which one man is married to two or more women simultaneously.
Polyandry is a kind of marriage in which one woman is married to two or more men simultaneously.
The incest taboo is a legal rule that prohibits sexual intercourse or marriage between particular classes of kin.
True or False?
T 1. The marriage of one man to two or more women is called polygyny.
F 2. If the people of a village prefer that their children marry spouses from other villages, they follow the rule of village endogamy.
T 3. Descent is a rule of relationship that links people together on the basis of reputed common ancestry. It often serves to regulate inheritance and the formation of kin groups.
F 4. A kinship group based on a unilineal rule of descent that is localized and which has corporate power is called a clan.
T 5. A family is a kin group made up of at least one married couple and their children, and which is residential and which has sexual, reproductive, economic, and educational functions.
- are unilineal descent groups composed of lineages. Their members recognize descent from a common ancestor, but cannot usually trace their actual genealogical connections.
* c . Clans
- An older married couple, together with their married sons, their daughters-in-law, and their grandchildren, all living in a single household, is a classic example of
- a nuclear
* b. an extended family.
- Descent from a common ancestor through males only, is called
* a. patrilineal descent.
- A bilateral kinship group that is most like the lineage is called a
* e. ramage.
- A rule of relationship that links people together on the basis of reputed common ancestry is called
* b. descent.
- A person one is related to by marriage is called a(n)
* a. affinal
- The cultural rule that prohibits sexual intercourse among defined classes of relatives is called
* a. the incest taboo.
- The marriage of one woman to more than one man simultaneously is called
* d. polyandry.
- A relationship between two people that is socially recognized and which confers birth-status rights on children is called
* d. marriage.
- a rite of passage.
- When a man is simultaneously married to two or more women, anthropologists call the arrangement
* b. polygyny.
- When it is preferred that a woman marry a man from her own village, we call the arrangement
* c. endogamy.
Mother’s Love: Death without Weeping NANCY SCHEPER-HUGHES
Summary In this article, Nancy Scheper-Hughes argues that under conditions of extreme poverty where there are high rates of infant mortality, it is a natural human response for mothers to distance themselves emotionally from their dead and dying children.
She bases her conclusion on 25 years of fieldwork experience in the shantytown of Alto do Cruzeiro on the edge of Bom Jesus de Mata, a market town in Northeast Brazil. Poverty in the shantytown produces a life expectancy of only 40 years, largely due to high rates of infant mortality. Social conditions are marked by brittle marriages; single parenting by women is the norm. Most work in the ―shadow economy.‖ Houses are most often built of daub and wattle and babies are frequently left home alone in them because infants can’t be taken to work.
Scheper-Hughes first encountered women‘s reactions to infant death in 1965 when 350 children died in a ―great baby die off.‖ Mothers seemed strangely indifferent to the deaths of their children. It was then that Scheper-Hughes concluded that learning to mother in Alto do Cruzeiro meant learning to know when to let go of one‘s emotional ties to children who were sick or weak.
Subsequent fieldwork revealed that midwives and other women support mothers in their detachment. Even civil authorities and the clergy try to discourage over attachment to babies. Registration of infant death is short and informal. Doctors don‘t recognize malnutrition and may just tranquilize, not treat, a dying child despite the fact that treatment might save the infant‘s life. The church no longer holds ceremonies for dead children, and infants are buried without headstones in spots that will be used over and over again.
Scheper-Hughes concludes that the lack of emotion over the death of their children is natural for women under these conditions, and that this reaction is seen in many parts of the world where infant death is common.
In an epilogue added by Schepr-Hughes for this edition, the author notes that by 2008 much has changed in Bom Jesus. The advent of a democratic government has brought a national health care system, a change in Catholic beliefs about infant death, an under-the-counter morning after pill, and most important, the installation of water pipes throughout the city. The result has been a dramatic decline in both infant birth and death rates. Mothers who once were resigned to ―letting go‖ of sickly babies now ―hold on‖ to their infants. Unfortunately, high infant mortality has been replaced by a new form of violence, the killing of young men by, gang leaders, banditos, and local police.
True or False?
T 1. In her article, ―Mother’s Love: Death without Weeping,‖ Scheper-Hughes argues that mothers in the shantytown of Alto do Cruzeiro learn to accept the death of a child without grieving.
F 2. According to Scheper-Hughes (Mother‘s Love: Death without Weeping), poor women in northeast Brazil will sacrifice in every way possible to keep their children alive.
T 3. According to Scheper-Hughes, civil and church authorities in the northeast town of Bom Jesus de Mata, Brazil, treat infant death casually and without much concern.
F 4. According to Scheper-Hughes, the doctors and clergy of the Brazilian city of Bom Jesus de Mata work hard to save the lives of poor children born in the shanty town of Alto do Cruzeiro but fail because of the indifference of the infants‘ mothers.
F 5. Nancy Scheper-Hughes (Mother‘s Love: Death without Weeping) feels that it is instinctual for poor mothers to grieve deeply over the death of their babies in most societies unless they have been separated from their infants by illness or divorce.
T 6. According to Scheper-Hughes (Mother‘s Love: Death without Weeping), mothers living in Alto do Cruzeiro in northeastern Brazil have been known to actually hasten the death of babies they feel will not survive by failing to feed them properly.
T 7. In an epilogue to her article (Mother‘s Love: Death without Weeping), Nancy Scheper- Hughes claims that the installation of piped, treated water to all homes in the shantytown contributed most to the increased survival of infants in Bom Jesus de Mata.
- According to Scheper-Hughes in her article, ―Mother’s Love: Death without Weeping,‖ poor Brazilian mothers living in a shanty town near the town of Bom Jesus de Mata
- will do almost anything to earn money in order to pay for the treatment of their sick babies.
* b. stay emotionally detached from their babies, particularly those they feel are likely to die.
- depend for child support on the local churches and civil
- observe nearly a year of formal mourning when a child dies, during which time they are not allowed to dance or laugh in
- try not to have children because infants die so
- According to Scheper-Hughes, doctors in the Brazilian town of Bom Jesus de Mata often
* a. fail to recognize malnutrition as the primary cause of illness among poor babies.
- refuse to examine poor
- prescribe drugs that their mothers cannot afford to buy for their sick
- hospitalize poor sick babies because the infants‘ mothers can‘t care for
- claim poor mothers are killing their babies through
- Scheper-Hughes reports that about infants died in Alto do Cruzeiro, Brazil, in 1965.
* e. 350
- According to Scheper-Hughes, four of the following statements are true about how the death of poor babies is treated in Alto do Cruzeiro and Bom Jesus de Mata, Brazil. Which one is not?
- Babies are buried without headstones or
- The church rarely holds ceremonies for dead
- The grave where an infant is buried may be used again for another
* d. Midwives encourage mothers of dead babies to grieve.
- Civil authorities only require a two-paragraph report when a baby dies.
- On the basis of her work in northeastern Brazil and on literature describing practices in other parts of the world, Scheper-Hughes feels that
- it is instinctual for mothers to grieve deeply over a dead son or daughter in every society including those with high infant mortality
- poor mothers everywhere cannot help but become attached to their sickly infants even though the latter are likely to
* c. it is natural for poor mothers to maintain emotional distance from infants who are likely to die.
- civil authorities try hard to improve the condition of poor women but the latter won‘t help
- poor women let their babies die despite concerted efforts by church authorities to prevent them from doing
- Scheper-Hughes (Mother‘s Love: Death without Weeping) claims that which of the follow kinds of people encourage(s) mothers not to become attached to their sick and dying children?
- two of the above
* e. a, b, and c above
- In an epilogue to her article (Mother‘s Love: Death Without Weeping), Scheper-Hughes argues that contributed to lower infant death and birth rates in Bom Jesus.
- a national health care system
- installation of water pipes through the shantytown
- an infant training program offered by a North American mission
* d. two of the above
- a, b, and c above
Family and Kinship in Village India DAVID W. McCURDY
Summary In this article, David McCurdy describes the importance of kinship among rural Bhil tribal peoples living in Ratakote, a hill village located in the southern part of Rajasthan near Udaipur, India. He argues that an elaborate and extended kinship system is not only a useful way for peasants to organize their labor, land holdings, and broader social connections, but that it is also a system that can be adapted to the market-dominated economic system currently emerging in India.
Americans find it difficult to comprehend the importance of extended kinship, but for the Bhils, the significance of kinship seems elementary. A wedding arranged by a villager for his daughter in 1985 illustrates the point nicely. To begin the arrangement, the father must consult the members of his patrilineage, who must later provide money and labor for the wedding. He will send out word to his feminal kin, the relatives of the women who have married into his line and the relatives of the men that women of his line have married in other villages. When prospective grooms are found, the first consideration is clan membership. Clans are large and consist of local lineages living in many villages over a wide territory. Bhils cannot marry into their own, their mother‘s, or their father‘s mother‘s clans without committing incest.
Once a suitable spouse is found, negotiations commence to set a bride price, the money and prestige goods given by the groom‘s family to that of the bride. Bride price is part of an exchange for the labor and loyalty of the bride. Marriage becomes an alliance between the two families but involves potential conflict. To clearly state that rights to her loyalty, labor, and children shift to her husband‘s family at marriage, the wedding ceremony symbolizes the bride‘s removal from her natal group. After marriage, a relationship built on formal respect keeps the bride‘s family at a proper distance.
Extended kinship systems seem well suited to agrarian peasant life where families best control landholding and economic production. Today, India is industrializing and the market economy is attracting many rural peasants to cities as well as restructuring economic relationships in rural villages. The market economy can easily weaken kinship systems by providing individuals with salaries and independence, causing people to move to find work, and creating jobs that compete for time with family obligations. Despite expansion of the market, Indians, including the Bhils described in this article, have adapted kinship relationships to provide support as they scatter across their country and around the world.
True or False?
T 1. In his article, ―Family and Kinship in Village India,‖ McCurdy argues that family and kinship relations have been extended to provide support in the market economy.
F 2. According to McCurdy, until recently Bhil tribals were permitted to marry people from their own village, thus limiting the scope of their economic and social worlds.
F 3. According to McCurdy (Family and Kinship in Village India), marriage allies the families of the bride and groom, which then become equal partners in an association of feminal kin.
T 4. According to McCurdy, the term feminal kin refers to the relatives of the men who women of one‘s own line have married, or the relatives of women who have married men of one‘s own line.
- 5. McCurdy notes that when a groom ritually breaks into his future bride‘s front yard at the beginning of the final wedding ceremony, the act is one way to symbolize her movement from her natal family to his.
F 6. McCurdy notes that clans are localized organizations of relatives made up of a person‘s close male relatives who are all descended from a known common ancestor.
- According to McCurdy (Family and Kinship in Village India),
* a. extended kinship systems are especially well suited to the organization of land holding in agrarian societies.
- industrialization and the market economy have essentially eliminated extended kinship ties in the Bhil village of
- the Bhil tribals of Ratakote must marry spouses from their own clan, their mother‘s clan, or their father‘s mother‘s
- two of the above
- none of the above
- According to McCurdy (Family and Kinship in Village India), the term feminal kin refers in part to when it is used to described kin relationships in
- the women belonging to one‘s own patriclan (arak)
- the women belonging to one‘s mother‘s patriclan (arak)
* c. the husbands and the relatives of women who belong to one‘s own lineage
- the women who make up one‘s matriclan
- men who take on the role of women
- McCurdy (Family and Kinship in Village India) argues that arranged marriage functions to
- cement relationships within Bhil families and
* b. create alliances between Bhil families and patrilineages.
- bring wealth to the groom‘s family because of the dowry they
- prevent the possibility of divorce in Bhil
- insure a happier marriage for Bhil brides and grooms.
- According to McCurdy, which one of the following is the most important structural tension associated with marriage in Bhil Society?
- the decision about how large the dapa (bride price) will be
- the possibility that young people will refuse to be married
- disagreement between lineages over who will get to give the wedding and receive the bride price
* d. the shifting of a woman‘s loyalty, labor, and reproductive potential from her family to her husband‘s family
- whether wives will inherit from their own or their husband‘s families
- According to McCurdy, when Bhils visit other villages, they usually stay with
- members of their
- members of their
- friends, not
- members of their extended family.
* e. feminal kin.
- According to McCurdy, a major tension in Bhil society occurs over the movement of a woman from her own family to that of her husband at marriage. Which of the following is a way Bhil cultural practice functions to reduce this tension?
- Grooms ritually storm the bride‘s front yard to symbolize that they are taking the woman away from her
- After the wedding, the family of the bride treats the groom and his family with formal respect
- The groom‘s family pays the family of the bride dapa (bride price) to compensate them for the loss of their
- two of the above
* e. a, b, and c above
- According to McCurdy, in India work in the market economy can weaken kinship systems by
- costing families too much
- reducing the economic dependence of people on their families and kin
- reducing the time people have to devote to family and
* d. two of the above
- a, b, and c above
- McCurdy (Family and Kinship in Village India) observes that
* a. despite the dispersal of relatives as a result of migration to cities for work, Indians maintain a high degree of loyalty to and support of their kin.
- work in cities has destroyed the Indian family and kinship
- cash labor has led to personal independence and the end of family arranged marriages in India.
- two of the above
- none of the above
Polyandry: When Brothers Take a Wife MELVYN C. GOLDSTEIN
Summary In this article, Goldstein discusses the functions of a rare custom, fraternal polyandry. Among the Tibetans of northern Nepal, it is common for a woman to marry two or more men who are brothers. Although brothers in such an arrangement can quarrel with each other and occasionally argue over sexual rights to the shared spouse, many men and women prefer the arrangement.
Two theories have previously been advanced by anthropologists to explain polyandry. One argues that the custom results from a shortage of women due to female infanticide. The other is that polyandry correlates with a shortage of arable land. The claim is that with polyandrous marriage, land can be held in the same male line without subdivision. Goldstein challenges both explanations. There is not, he argues, a high rate of female infanticide among Tibetans, and many Tibetan women live out their lives unmarried, yet bear children. If scarce land were the problem, one would expect poor families with little land to practice polyandry, but it is wealthy farmers who prefer the custom. Polyandry does serve to reduce the birth rate, but Tibetans don‘t recognize this latent function. Instead, for the wealthier Tibetans who practice it, polyandry is desirable because it permits them to keep land holdings together and continue to live a more prosperous life.
True or False?
T 1. According to Goldstein (Polyandry: When Brothers Take a Wife), it is richer Tibetans living in Nepal who prefer polyandry.
F 2. Goldstein believes that Tibetan polyandry is a response to high rates of female infanticide.
T 3. Goldstein argues that Tibetan polyandry functions to reduce the birth rate.
F 4. According to Goldstein, Tibetan polyandry is a response to a shortage of arable land.
T 5. Goldstein argues that Tibetan Polyandry permits wealthy farmers to maintain their higher standard of living.
- According to Goldstein (Polyandry: When Brothers Take a Wife), Tibetan polyandry functions above all to
- adapt Tibetans to a shortage of
* b. permit richer farmers to maintained their standard of living.
- respond to a shortage of women caused by high rates of female
- preserve the
- preserve the
- Which one of the following is not true about Tibetan polyandry?
* a. Polyandry reduces sexual competition among brothers.
- Polyandry lowers the birth
- Polyandry enables wealthier farmers to maintain their higher standard of
- Polyandry is often preferred by
- Polyandry produces a large number of unmarried
- The custom of polyandry may end among Tibetans living in Nepal because
- women don‘t like the
- men don‘t like the
* c. of government opposition and new economic opportunities.
- of conflict between men over rights to a woman‘s children.
- of new techniques for reclaiming land to
- According to Goldstein, it is difficult for a male Tibetan to start his own farm because
- the government restricts access to new
- he must get permission from his lineage head, something that is hard to
- there is no more land to reclaim in the
* d. it is difficult to terrace new land and keep animals simultaneously without help.
- all of the above
- According to Goldstein, Tibetan polyandry
* a. requires a group of brothers to marry one woman.
- is caused by high rates of female infanticide, creating a shortage of
- is a response to a shortage of arable
- two of the
- a, b, and c above.
Uterine Families and the Women’s Community MARGERY WOLF
Summary Anthropologists have traditionally looked at patrilineal society from the male point of view. In this article based largely on fieldwork on Taiwan in the late 50s and early 60s, Margery Wolf deals with the place of Chinese women in a patrilineal descent system. She focuses especially on how women establish their identity and security inside this apparently male world. A Chinese woman never holds a secure place in the patrilineal family of her birth. She will leave it at marriage and will not produce its heirs. When she enters her husband‘s family, she often meets with hostility and suspicion. The males view the bride as a producer of new members for the family, but the other women fear displacement at the hands of the new arrival. Therefore, a woman has to establish herself in her husband‘s family by building her own unit of support. Called the ―uterine family,‖ the unit is composed of her offspring, particularly her sons who will remain with the family. Supported by her uterine family, a woman gains importance within her husband‘s extended family.
As she grows up, a girl uses her mother‘s uterine family as her model. After marriage, she may lose touch with her sisters, but she will always maintain strong ties with her brothers, who will have an important relationship with her children. In addition to the family network, she will also establish herself in the woman‘s community of her husband‘s village, and collectively she and the other women will exert influence over the behavior of other men and women.
True or False?
T 1. A uterine family is partly composed of a woman and her children.
F 2. Even after her marriage, a woman maintains close ties with her parents and siblings, according to Wolf in her article about the Chinese family.
F 3. In a Chinese family, women are at the mercy of their husband‘s family throughout life, without recourse to the support of other people.
T 4. The fact that Chinese women find support in their uterine families is a reason for conflict within their husband’s extended family.
F 5. A Chinese woman enters her husband‘s house as a powerless stranger, but she returns to her own home for visits during the first two or three years to reduce the tension.
T 6. Much of the hostility between a woman and her mother-in-law comes about because of the ambiguous position of her husband.
- In her article on the Chinese uterine family, Wolf asserts that within her husband’s family
- a Chinese woman depends almost solely on her husband for
- a woman receives most support from her husband‘s brother‘s
* c. a woman receives most of her support from her children.
- a woman receives most support from the families into which her daughters have married.
- a woman receives most support from her parents and
- As a child, a Chinese woman‘s most important family ties are with her
* d. mother and siblings.
- siblings alone.
- The uterine family described by Wolf for China would include which one of the following after she is married
* a. a woman‘s children.
- a woman‘s
- a woman‘s
- a woman‘s sisters-in-law.
- a woman‘s
- In her article, ―Uterine Families and the Women‘s Community,‖ Margery Wolf asserts that Taiwanese women
- must always depend on their husbands for support in family
- band together with the wives of their husband‘s brothers to achieve intrafamily
* c. gain power by having sons.
- gain power from the families their daughters marry
- gain the most power by working hard at family
- According to Margery Wolf, which one of the following would be a member of her uterine family after she is married?
- her mother-in-law
* b. her sons
- her brothers
- her sisters
- her mother
- The Chinese depicted by Margery Wolf in the article about uterine families would best be
* e. patrilineal.