ANTB19 – Lecture 7
Final exam – December 7 2-4pm at the GYM
Nuer politics: characteristics of the tribal system pg. 122, 3 paragraph – memorize it
and have to be able to explain it - ** will be in the exam. 1.Common and distinct name, 2.
common sentiment, common and distinct territory, 3.moral obligation to unite in war,
4. moral obligation o settle disputes through arbitration. 5. Tribe is a segmented
structure, 6. there’s opposition, within each tribe there’s dominant clan, 7. tribe is a unit
in the system of tribe, 8. age sets or organized tribally – should be comfortable
describing these points for the exam. Politics is always concerned with territory, need
to know kin relations for who you can or cannot marry. Its exogamous – marry outside
of your lineage. [can’t marry within the kin]
EP uses the word “structure” a theory to describe the social relations.
Patrilineage Clans – largest group of agnates who trace
their decent from common ancestor and
between whom the marriage is forbidden
but has a highly segmented geneological
structure and are constantly separating.
- Patrilineal groupies, live in one territory
and unite politically. Often a dominant
Agnates,- male kin cognates- all the Group of lineages with the one that is
people with whom you’re related, dominant and together they form a tribal
Affines are the people who you’re affiliation – its your place of residence or
related through marriage. territory. Nuer – home is where the cattles
are, always close to their herds.
Lineages change over time but clan’s are stable said by EP The main political structure
persist over time. – confusing
The two overlap. One expresses their political affiliation in terms of kin, even in the way
people talk is confusing.
An institution is a conventional form of behavior that is recognized by the people who
inhered to it or A form of social behavior governed by convention and there is an
understanding that people are supposed to inhere to that cultural practice.
Conventional – appropriate way to act. Feud is the political institution. They
understood expectation of how one supposed to act.
Segmentary lineage system: crosses between the political + kinship structures. Feud –
environment was really tough. Group of brothers had disputes one of them left – fission,
and joined the other group – fusion. New people that matter to him from now on in
terms of political maneuver. We have Political places that are constant but within
Nuerland its highly variable and constantly shifting where one group might be
politically active, politics is always territory based. In this case his entire affiliation
changes – a part of different lineage after moving. Entire kinship system traces through agnates, cognates and affines. They call general
relationships – mar. but the lineage system is connected only with agnatic kin [by
tracing through men]/ According to EP, pg. 198 lineage values are thus almost the same
as tribal value. The processes of lineal segmentation and other segmentations [political]
are almost the same thing. Understand kin obligation through agnatic relations.
In the real world its hard to tell that lineage and tribal segmentation because the
players are expressing their actions in either kin or political term is confusing. When we
make this distinction because its important to the anthropologists to figure our social
The Nuer – political structure, kinship structure cosmology / religious belief
economic structure. all together called structural functionalism. We understand these
structures as interrelated. Anthropologists looked at societies in sort of isolation and
studied the interrelated parts all together. That’s the theory informing The Nuer and EP
is the father of this theory. This is why we call him Structural functionalist
The ways in which kinship and political structures work is useful to study the Nuer
society. Lineages have reciprocal relationships, there are ritual symbols that unite
them. The sentiment that gets at the reasons for lineage segmentation is -> me against
my brother, my brother and I against the world. Segmentation happens in both lineage
and tribal levels.
For political segmentation, which is closely related to kinship, the enemy of my enemy
is my friend. Essentially the same but think of them as both lineage and kinship
structure. Through fission, lineage groups live in other territories and shows political
affiliation e.g. homes are where the cattles are. Certain ritual activities, or
responsibilities, one need to regard these actions through exogamy. In the community
that you live which is most important to your tribal’s affiliation, in social life it is
community and tribe that are most important
Feuds and quarrels between lineages – disperse over land – leads to migration + new
political alliances. Economic structure- the way your community is based one. **Read
pg 110 – explains the way in which movement across the landscape happens.
Corporate groups - Groups of brothers bound together as unit acts co-actively
Age sets are tribal. DIEL are aristrocratic clans associated with the dominant clan of the
tribal section. Dominant group – Bull of the clan. RUL – are NUER who live in a tribal
area not associated in their clan. The Leopard skin chief comes from there. JAANG – are
DInka who live in Nuerland these are young boys who were stolen in warfare, they are
adopted and drafted onto a lineage. By the 2 generation they join a lineage through
marriage and enter the structure.
Nuer have to marry outside of their clan they typically marry within their tribal
territory when they do that they are making more powerful connection.
Key points of The Nuer
EP has a theory about social structure and has chosen to speak of the Facts that would
illustrate the structure on pg 236 he writes: in the absence of political institution
providing a central administration in a tribe and coordinating its segments it is the
system of lineages of its dominant clan which gives it structural distinctness and unity.
Myth helps to explain relationship between clans which are central to the po