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Canada (492,253)
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ANTC09H3 (18)
Lecture 4

Week 4 Readings

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Sandra Bamford

The Nayars and the Definition of MarriageKathleen Gough The notes and queries definition contains 2 criteria 1 That marriage is a union between one man and one woman 2 that it establishes the legitimacy of childrenThe nuer woman marriage does not conform to the first criterion but it does to the second Dr Leach argued not only against the vagueness of the phrase legitimate offspring but also against any use of potential legal paternity as a universal criterion of marriageHe named 10 classes of rights which frequently occur in connection with what we loosely term marriage added that one might perhaps considerably extend this list and seemed to conclude that since no single one of these rights is invariably established by marriage in every known society we ought to feel free to call marriage any institution which fulfils any one or more of the selected criteria I would argue for purposes of cross cultural comparison we do need a single parsimonious definition simply in order to isolate the phenomenon we wish to studyIn support of his argument against using the legitimizing of children as a universal criterion of marriage dr leach cited the Nayar caseThe nayars traditionally had no marriage in the strict sense of the term but only a relationship of perpetual affinity between linked lineages The womans children however they might be begotten were simply recruits to the womans own matrilineagethe notion of fatherhood is lackingThe child uses a term of address meaning lord or leader towards all its mothers lovers but the use of this term does not carry with it any connotation of paternity either legal or biologicalThe noton of affinity is present as evidenced by the fact that a woman must observe pollution at her ritual husbands deathDr Leah concludes that among the matrilineal matrilocal Nayar as we have seen right J to established a socially significant relationship of affinity between the husband and his wifes brothers is the only marriage characteristic that is present at all 24The aim is to show that there is a common element not only in the institutions anthropologists have confidently labelled marriage by the notes and quieries definition but also in some unusual cases to which that definition does not apply
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