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Wilfrid Laurier University
Anne- Marie Colpron

Marriage: an institution that prototypically involves a man and a woman, transforms the status of the participants, carries implications about sexual access, gives offspring a position in society, and establishes connections between the kin of a husband and the kin of a wife  Not synonymous with mating o Involves a change in the social position of the participants o Gives offspring a position in society o Establishes connections between 2 families  Symbolically marked by a special ceremony, where the legitimacy of the union is acknowledged Affinal/ Consanguineal  Affinal relationships (marriage) are contrasted to consanguineal relationships (“blood” relationships) of descent Who can be married or not  Not all cultures have the same rules on who can be married or not  It depends on how the descent groups and blood relationships are established Exogamy: “Marriage outside a defined social group”  ie outside a clan Endogamy: “marriage within a defined social group”  ie. Between 2 clans The use of these terms depend on the context  Ex. Clans are exogamous but a social group that has many clans can be endogamous The Nuer  The patrilineages are exogamous: You have to marry outside your own lineage  The opposite is seen as a form of incest: You marry your consanguines  The Nuer as a whole social group are endogamous: They do not marry with strangers  They are affines with other patrilineages Woman Marriage  Among the Nuer, a sterile woman could marry another woman and become the “father” of the children her wife bore  What the marriage was established, the female “father” would get a male kinsman to impregnate her wife and help with some tasks that Nuer believe could only be done by men Pater/ Genitor  The pater is the person that will take the father social role, the one that acts like a father  The genitor is the one that impregnates the woman Ghost Marriage  Among the Nuer, a man who died without a male descendant left an unhappy spirit who might trouble his living kin  The man’s spirit is angry since his name cannot be continued in his lineage through sons  To appease the angry spirit, a kinsman of the dead man (brother or brother son) would marry a woman to the name of the deceased: she was then married to the ghost o Purpose: not to forget the man and continue lineages o Pater = dead man o Genitor = brother Levirate  A marriage practice where a widow marries the brother of her deceased husband  Their children will be the lineage of the new husband/ brother Sororate  A marriage practice where a widow marries a sister or specific cousin of his deceased wife Purpose of levirate/ sororate  To keep or reinforce the alliance between the 2 affinal groups  The connections b/t the 2 families are not broken down Transfer of symbolically important goods  In many societies, a marriage implies a transfer of symbolically important goods: o Bridewealth  The transfer of certain symbolically important goods from the family of the groom to the family of the bride on the occasion of their marriage  Represents compensation to the wife’s group for the loss of her labour and for child-bearing capacities  Ie. In the film “A wife among wives”  bridewealth practice among the pastoralist Turkana  Give cattle o Dowry  The transfer of wealth from parents to their daughter at the time of her marriage Patterns of residence after marriage  Neolocal  couple llchoose where they live without taking into account where their parents live  Patrilocal  they will live with the husbands side of family  Matrilocal  they will live with the wifes side of the family  Avunculocal  they will live with maternal uncle  Amibilocal  they will live with husbands family for one period of time, and the wife’s family, and then they choose  Duolocal  husband and wife live in their own lineages Neolocal residence  A post-marital residence pattern where a married couple sets up an independent household at a place of their choosing  Most com
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