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Lecture 4

Anthropology 3332F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Couvade, Consanguinity, Matrilocal Residence


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 3332F/G
Professor
Andrew Walsh
Lecture
4

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Wednesday, Sept 27, 2017
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Anthro 3332 Lecture 4 notes
Last week: talking about biological birth and social birth
"Social birth" Rival's article on the Huaorani Couvade
Rival, Laura 1998 Androgynous Parents and Guest Children: The Huaorani Couvade
Anthropological definitions of “Couvade”
• “the custom by which ‘the father, on the birth of his child, makes a ceremonial pretence
of being the mother, being nursed and taken care of, and performing other rites such as
fas1ng and abstaining from certain kinds of food or occupa1ons, lest the new-born should
suffer thereby’ (Tylor 1888:254)” (Rival 1998:628)
• “a set of ideas and related conven1onal behaviour that intimately associates a man with
the birth of his child” (Riviere 1974:425)
Where men take on roles and responsibilities
Past approaches ...
• 19th century evolutionists.
• RECALL: Evolu1onist approaches to “virgin birth” and paternity.
• Couvade as a sign of transition between less- evolved mother-centered to more-evolved
father-dominated socie1es. (48)
• Couvade practices allows men to “ritually establish claims of paternity over children”.
• But still ... an “apparently absurd” practice of “primitive cultures”.
Malinowski?
• Malinowski’s relativist/functionalist approach.
• RECALL: Trobriand men and concep1on.
• But ... fathers did par1cipate in rituals that, among other things, helped to impart their
likeness to unborn children.
• For Trobrianders, couvade practices func1on to create an important
relationship/attachment between fathers and children.
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Wednesday, Sept 27, 2017
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• Also ... giving the comfort of seeming to exert some control over an uncertain situation.
“Men’s participation in the birth process” (Rival: 622-625)
• “perinatal dietary and activity restrictions for both parents” (622)
• At the time of birth, the father “avoids hunting and stays at home as much as possible,
preferably lying in his hammock” (622).
• Is this men imitating women going through the process? What does Rival say? (623)
They are not imitating, it is a part of the pregnancy
Women shares vitamins given to her with father
Couvade includes only men's perspective whereas Rival accounts for both
Rival Three Points
• Rival’s focus not on men, but on “co- parenthood” (631).
• Of special significance to in-marrying fathers in a context with uxorilocal residence
patterns.
Uxorilocal residence is a matrilocal residence they go live with male relatives of mother
like uncle etc
“perinatal observances have the catalytic effect of furthering the absorption of in-
marrying men into their wives’ houses.” (634)
• Couvade fits with broader Huaorani understandings of how people living in a
longhouse are related through sharing common substance.
Huaorani are made by part of their father and mother but they absorb parts through
substance of each
"Consubstantial" vs "consanguineal" kin
'sleeping metaphor'
consanguineal meaning shared blood so DNA, blood relation
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“couvade” as Rival explains it ...
“a rite corresponding to the process by which a new human person is brought to life and
new relationships are created” (Rival 1998:628)
Empathy belly something for men to experience what "pregnancy" is like by putting it
on
Reed Birthing Fathers
• “Couvade syndrome” in American society.
• Given prevailing biomedical understandings of reproduction, “sympathetic” reactions in
fathers have been considered abnormal.
• “Aber a century of using anthropology to understand couvade in other societies ...” (72)
Reed Birthing Fathers
• “American couvade”
• Like Huaorani men, many American men “enact rites and perform stereotyped
absolutions to assure a safe and healthy child” (58)
• Changing consumption habits – food, etc.
The halting of smoking
• Changing patterns of sexual activity.
Huaorani changed their sexual habits
• “sympathetic reactions” – weight gain, nausea, etc.
• Preparing a safe “nest”.
The difference between Huaorani and American couvade?
"although american fathers perform the birthing activities, their couvade lacks the public
presence that recognizes the experience of fathers in birthing" (63)
Increase of paternity leave
Today's theme:
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