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Lecture 15

Lecture 15 -- Kinship.docx

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ANT 2000
Elyse Anderson

Kinship  Looking at the phenomena of relatedness  Relatedness = the socially recognized ties that connect people in a variety of different ways; believed to come from some shared substance and its transmission; substance may be a bodily one (blood, genes, milk) or spiritual (soul, spirit, nurturance, love)  How do we determine “family” and how do we organize our household to meet our basic human needs  Kinship = a network of relatives within which individuals possess certain mutual rights and obligations (those obligations usually reflect the society you grew up in)  One way to examine relatedness is through descent groups  Descent groups = any kin-group whose members share a direct line of descent from a real (historical) or fictional common ancestor  Meaningful obligations hold this structured social group together; membership is often strictly defined in order to prevent conflicting loyalties and obligations  Unilineal or unilateral descent = descent traced exclusively through either the male or female line of ancestry to establish group membership; automatically assigned from the moment of birth; either matrilineal or patrilineal (our society is unilineal anyway though!)  Two major forms of unilineal descent groups = lineage and clans  Lineage = a unilineal kin-group descended from a common ancestor or founder who lived four to six generations ago and in which relationships among members can be exactly stated in genealogical terms (basically a group of people with long family connection to an ancestor from a while ago and that’s it)  Clan = consists of several lineages, who members claim common descent from a remote ancestor, usually legendary or mythological  Ambilineal descent = an individual can choose to affiliate with either the mother’s or the father’s descent group, BUT NOT BOTH (occurs among the Samoan culture)  Double descent = an extremely rare, complex system in which descent is matrilineal for some purposes and patrilineal for others (occurs among the Yakurr in Nigeria); basically depends on the situation on whether you have an obligation to your mother’s side or your father’s side  Often close associations between descent system and a culture’s infrastructure; patrilineal descent common in societies that favor male labor like pastoralists and matrilineal descent common in communities that favor female labor like horticulturalists (the mainstream thought even though often anthropologists just look at the overall common cases and define that as the big picture while overlooking cases that don’t fit that system)  In many societies, legal and political status comes from lineage status; a lineage is like a corporation—it endures outside of the individuals that compose it—owns property and religious knowledge, organizes labor, distributes goods, and regulates relations with other groups  Common feature of lineage is exogamy  Exogamy = members of a lineage must find their marriage partners in other lineages; marriage, therefore, is not just a union between two individuals but between two lineages (occurs in India)  When lineages grow too large to manage or outgrow lineage’s resources, fission occurs  Fission = the splitting of descent groups into two or more new descent groups; usually they continue to recognize their original relationships; thus they become a clan  Clan lacks the residential unity; membership is dispersed and usually does not involve the shared holding of property; it often involves the collective participation in ceremonial and political matters  Totems = often have means of self-identity involving the use of symbols like animals, plants, natural forces, colors, etc.  Totemism = the notion of people being related to particular animals, plants, or natural objects by virtue of descent from common ancestral spirits  Tlingit people (Alaska, British Columbia) = matrilineal group; two moieties (Raven and Eagles which leads to multiple clans in each group which leads to lineages)  Phratry = a unilineal descent group composed of at least two clans that supposedly share a common ancestor, whether or not they really do  Moiety = if a society is divided into only two major descent groups, whether they are equivalent to clans or phratries (gets own term because people actually base their lives off of this)  Bilateral kinship = affiliates a person with genetically close relatives (but not in-laws) through BOTH sexes; the individual traces descent through both parents, all four grandparents, and so forth, recognizing multiple ancestors; one is associated equally with both sides theoretically  Group
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