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Lecture 5

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Sandra Bamford

Lecture 5 October 17 2011 Bride wealth plays pivotal role Father amongst the Nuer does not mean biologically related but refers to person who paid bride wealth for mother or for childanthropologists ask why is it that all human societies across the globe have some kind of incest taboo owhy is there an incest taboo o 1 All societies have an incest taboo but concept varies from one society to the nextHow have we interpreted the incest tabooLEVISTRAUSS key figure in this debate Book Elementary Structures of Kinship o Why is incest taboo universal Main aim of book o Human sexuality is a natural fact however amongst human beings this natural instinctdrive is regulated by cultural means o incest taboo exists on threshold of nature and culture defines humanityLEVISTRAUSS THE ELEMENTARY STRUCTURES OF KINSHIP o INCEST TABOO1 BIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION Morgan Maine Lesushields human beings from the disastrous consequences of inbreeding Problems marry ie Ancient Rome Ancient Egypt matingcommonIn some societies close kin dobetween father sister brothersisterSeveral cases of dynastic incest in Ancient Peru and Hawaii where royal brothers and sisters were encouraged to mate to preserve bloodline and sacrednessStrong evidenceinbreeding does not increase rate of biological abnormalities with offspringDifficult to justify a biological explanation for incest when many societies prohibit marriage to one type of cousin and encourage it for another type of cousinThroughout the world many prohibit marriage to parallel cousin but encourage crosscousin marriageAdopted children subjected to same taboos as natural children are2 FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT ARGUMENT Westermarck HavelockEllis Arapeshchildren who are reared together in some householdnatural aversion to having sex with one anotherFamiliaritylessening of sex desireProblems Natural aversion to incestno point of having a taboo no point outlining something people wouldnt do anywaysFreud for example in psychoanalysis argues that we all do have incestuous desires
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