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Chapter 3

The Trobrianders - Chapter 3.docx

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Robert Brym

The Trobrianders of PapuaNew Guinea Chapter 3: Fathers and Matrilineality Interrupted Sleep  A baby is believed to come from Tuma.  There is no ceremony  ONLY involves closest matrilineal female kin, the village NOT involved.  The woman stays in house for weeks and baby is high up in a wooden crate above fire - never dies.  After this short period the child sleeps with mother and children a few years old sleep with father.  Naseluma had given birth, and Anna was invited after it was born  “outsider lyfe”  Naseluma was assisted by her mother and mother’s sister while in labor.  Marriage – woman lives with husband  Shortly before she gives birth and months after the baby is born – woman lives with her mother  Marriages is between people near by  village (valu) is divided into sections called hamlets (katuposula) for each matrilineage  marriage NOT in the same hamlet, but in the SAME village  Naseluma married a man in her village and moved her belongings to his hamlet. When her son was born, she was secluded for 2 months and her husband and his kin were required to bring her food, but her matrilineal kin cooks it and attends to her needs.  Food taboos while Naseluma is nursing such as no yams and pork. She stays on high bead with a fire burning and covers her body with a long, light-colored cape made from fried banana-leaf fibers.  Contrast to mourningwhich is dark and cold, birth is light and warm. Birth and Ancestors  Belief that at death, the spirit becomes youthful again and continues its existence on Tuma. BUT it ages so it becomes youthful but by bathing in seawater where skin comes off and life continues.  A spirit child (waiwaia “infant” “fetus”) is created  the spirit continues it presence on Tuma, BUT spirit child goes to Kiriwina where it enters a woman’s body (same matrilineage) = pregnant  Mother’s blood + ancestor’s spirit = mother’s matrilineal identity  named after dead ancestor  Alternative beliefs: o pregnant after a baloma came to them in a dream and told them a waiwaia was sent. o magic spell that asked baloma to send a spirit child to the woman who wants a baby. o baloma carries waiwaia to Kiriwina o one must bathe in the sea, so waiwaia spirits can enter.  COMMONTRUTH: waiwaia causes conception  With education system, people know about the biological procreation story. However, many still believe in the traditional story because it has its advantages: o Eg. A woman got pregnant while her husband was away for a year and he sued her for adultery. But her mother said she used magic to make her pregnant. o Eg. Unmarried women was pregnant, but because of the beliefs no stigma was attached.  BUT the western biological procreation story at the time was primitive as well. The OtherMatrilineage  Kopoi – to care for a dead person before burial, to feed/to nurse an infant.  Woman nurses for 1 ½ years, but the father plays a long-lasting role  their contributions complements the women’s and enhances the child’s potential power  Child given an ancestral name  claim’s right to matrilineage (can pass name on) and first public recognition of matrilineal identity. BUT their father’s sister also gives an ancestral name that is used more often  borrowed rights of father’s matrilineal property (can’t pass name on) = bond.  Trobriand kinship based on 2 conc
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