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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 -- Marriage & Family.docx

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANT 2000
Professor
Elyse Anderson
Semester
Fall

Description
Marriage & Family  Marriage = a culturally sanctioned union between two or more people that establishes certain rights and obligations between the people, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws; such marriage rights and obligations most often include—but are not limited to—sex, labor, property, childrearing, exchange, and status  Why not “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” as reflected in US federal law?  Marriage encompasses the biological and the cultural = it embeds mating within an elaborately constructed social and cultural niche  Backed up by social, political, and ideological factors while also regulating sexual relations and reproductive rights and obligations  Marriage plays an important role in the formation of social groups; creates affinal relationships (relations based on marriage) in contrast to consanguinal (blood) ties  Culturally specific rules of marriage involve both endogamy and exogamy  Endogamy = marriage within a particular group or category of individuals  Exogamy = marriage outside of the group  Why have rules for endogamy and exogamy? = incest taboo; biologically in our best interest (genetics-wise); etc.  Example = Trobriand islanders have to marry outside their clan/lineage (exogamy), but village endogamy is the norm  Forms of marriage = o Monogamy = a marriage form in which both partners have just one spouse; in parts of the world where divorce and remarriage is high, serial monogamy is the norm (end up being in a series of long-term monogamous marriages); the norm o Polygamy = a marriage form in which one individual has multiple spouses at the same time (polygyny = man with more than wife; polyandry = woman with more than one husband) o Group marriage = (see below!)  Common wisdom = polygyny is particularly common in traditional food-producing societies where women provide bulk of cultivation labor; women are valued as both workers and child bearers; also multiple wives can be a source of prestige…. (shows wives; probably savvy)  Polyandry is comparatively rare; in Tibet, inheritance is through male line and arable land is limited, so the marriage of brothers to a single woman keeps the land together and keeps population growth at bay  Do you find these explanations satisfactory? Is it exclusively about economics?  Alternative approaches = polygyny in the US; outlawed by Mormon Church in 1890; yet, estimate of 30,000-50,000 people in Rocky Mountain states live in households made up of a man with two or more wives (Egan 1999); people have agency  People have agency = people aren’t robots; don’t follow boundaries of their culture exactly; always cases that fit outside those lines (just because monogamy is law doesn’t mean everybody practices it)  Polyamory = the practice, state, or ability of havi
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