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Lecture 7

Textbook Notes for Lecture 7 - Kinship, Mating, Marriage

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT102H5
Professor
Victor Barac

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Notes From Reading for Lecture 7 C HAPTERS : 4(PGS . 108-137) AND 5.2,5.3, 5.4 Lecture: Kinship, Mating, and Marriage Chapter 4: Patterns of Family Relations Introduction Family Relations in North American Popular Culture - The study of kinship, including family composition, descent and marriage, has long been central to sociocultural anthropology - Franklin and MacKinnon argue that “the study of kinship is itself symbolic of the anthropological tradition” - Ethnographic Present – Use of the present tense to describe a culture, although the description may refer to situations that existed in the past Question 4.1: What is the Composition of the Typical Family Group? - In 1968, David Schneider was the first anthropologist to conclude that kinship, in North America and elsewhere, is a cultural system, not a set of biological facts - We employ the language of blood, of love, and of solidarity strategically to determine whom we consider kin and whom we do not - North American reckon Bilateral Kinship – A system in which individuals trace their descent through both parents (which isn’t true for N.A) - Nuclear Family – The family group consisting of father, mother, and their biological or adopted children (the most important family grouping or North Americans) - Matrilineal Kinship – A system of descent in which persons are related to their kin through the mother only - Patrilineal Kinship – A system of descent in which persons are related to their kin through the father only The Family Composition of Ju/’hoansi - Bilaterally related, who hunt and gather in a territory associated with a particular water hole - Brideservice – The requirement that when a couple marries, the groom must work for the bride’s parents for some specified period of time - The groom is also expected to come and live in the bride’s parents’ camp and work for her parents for as long as ten years The Family Composition of Trobriand Islanders - Matrilineage – A lineage that is formed by tracing descent in the female line (along with their unmarried children) (Referred to as dala) - Dala members trace their descent back to their mythological ancestors, and they base their claims to specific plots of land on the fact that it was from there their ancestors emerged - Women cannot conceive without the “permission” of her brother - Believe that sexual intercourse has no role in conception, but a role in the developmental growth of the fetus o A man’s semen provides food and nourishment for the fetus, which is why children physically resemble their fathers - The key family relationship for them is between brother and sister o The father of the family is an outside to his children, a member of another family group o Extended Family – A family group based on blood relations of three or more generations  dala is more important than nuclear families - Another consequence of matrilineal kinship is that men inherit property from their mother’s brothers The Family Composition of Rural Chinese Notes From Reading for Lecture 7 C HAPTERS : 4(PGS . 108-137) AND 5.2,5.3, 5.4 - Family life in rural China revolves around the patrilineal extended family household of a married couple - Patrilineage – A lineage that is formed by tracing descent in the male line - The Chinese expressed a marked preference for male children o Needed to maintain the patrilineal descent group o A son is major happiness, whereas a daughter is little happiness Question 4.2: How are Families Formed, and How is the Ideal Family Type Maintained? - Incest Taboo – A rule that prohibits sexual relations among certain categories of kin, such as brothers or sisters, parents and children, or in some cases, cousins - The marriage ceremony in many North American societies is often arranged and financed by the bride’s family The Family Cycle of Ju/’hoansi - Men and women, like most North Americans, begin to learn about courtship, sex and marriage early in life - Marriage is important for a man as it marks him as an adult worthy of taking part in Ju/’hoansi public life - Men usually marry for the first time between the ages 18-25, whereas women often marry as early as 12-14 (before their first menstruation – 17) o Marry early so that longer her husband will work for her parents while gains an alliance with another family The Family Cycle of Trobriand Islanders - Courtship and sexual plays begin early in the Trobriand Islands - Malinowski says about adolescent courtship: “An adolescent gets definitely attached to a given person, wishes to possess her, works purposefully towards his goal, plans to reach fulfillment of his desires by magical and other means, and finally rejoices in achievement - As sexual activity is common before marriage, the couple often already live together, and marriage simply formalizes an existing relationship - Clan – A unilateral descent group whose members claim descent from a common ancestor - Exogamy – A rule that requires a person to marry someone outside one’s own group o Other societies practice, Endogamy – The rule that requires a person to marry someone inside one’s own group (the group could be a lineage, an ethnic group, a religious group, etc.) - Incest taboo rule applies to all close relatives, particularly brother and sister - There are no marriage ceremony, instead the girl would just sleep at the boyfriends house, and the next morning, the bride’s mother brings the couple cook yams, indicating their family’s approval of marriage o Bride’s mother and uncle bring the couple yams, while the groom’s father and uncle begin collecting bridewealth o Bridewealth – The valuables that a groom or his family are expected or obliged to present to the bride’s family - After the first year of marriage, no PDA is allowed - Divorce occur in the first year of marriage; however they are rare after the couple has been together for a few years, and this is usually taken by the wife The Family Cycle of Rural Chinese - In China, the family centers on the relationship between father and son - Marriages in rural China are almost always arranged, often far in advance, and there is little if any courtship - A matchmaker is used to find an appropriate match using a time and date of a girl’s birth to a prospective groom’s family Notes From Reading for Lecture 7 C HAPTERS : 4(PGS. 108-137) AND 5.2,5.3, 5.4 o The boy’s mother would take the papers of candidates to a fortuneteller who would then predict the compatibility of the boy and girl o If a girl is chosen as appropriate, the matchmakers tries to convince the girls’ parents to accept the match; then bridewealth is discussed - A second way is for the family to adopt a girl into the family o Advantage: child was raised by mother-in-law, therefore obedient o Disadvantage: children grow up as brother and sister, hard to transit - A third way is adoption of a boy to serve as a husband for a daughter (if family has no sons) - Rural Chinese wedding is very formal, and for the groom’s family, expensive o A diviner decides the exact date and hour of the wedding, as well as when the bride will arrive in her sedan chair o Dowry – The goods and valuables a bride’s family supplies to the groom’s family or to the couple - After the marriage, husband and wife sleep in the same bed for only seven days, and hen moves into the husband’s family o Has to be respectful and obedient to mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, and occupies the lowest place at the table until the birth of a son o The husband refers to her in third person (mother of my child) until a male is born - Divorce is virtually unhearded of in rural China o A wife have no rights of divorce Question 4.3: What are the Roles of Sexuality, Love, and Wealth? Sex, Love and Wealth Among Ju/’hoansi - Sex, love and beauty are very important for women in the lives of the Ju/’hoansi - Sexuality is important first for her own well-being o Sex attracts lovers, and a love relationship, being voluntary, recognizes the equality of the participants - Males see them as sources of conflict and consequently as potentially dangerous - The dynamics of Ju/’hoansi families are built on the need of individuals to avoid permanent ties and obligations and to maintain their independence Sex, Love and Wealth Among Trobriand Islanders - Sexuality is important to women only prior to their marriage o Instead emphasizes her fertility and motherhood - Men who want to marry must use the wealth of members of their matrilineage as bridewealth of members of their wives’ families Sex, Love and Wealth Among Rural Chinese - Virginity is both valued and necessary for a Chinese bride - A wife’s function is to produce children, whereas a man who can afford it take concubines - A women’s value consists in her potential to become the mother of a boy Question 4.4: What Threatens to Disrupt the Family Unit? Threats to a Ju/’hoasi Family - The major threat is conflict between husband and wife over infidelity or the efforts of a husband to secure a second wife - Polygamy – A form of marriage in which a person is permitted to have more than one
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