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Alex Engemann Anthropology 263g Term paper Village Fission Dispersed in around 250 different village civilizations, the South American Yanomamo society number about 20,000 people. Each village is built as a certain structure called a shabono, and each shabono contains about 200 people. The society of the Yanomamo is based mostly on kinship and relationship systems. Two basic divisions for kin in Yanomamo society exist: affines, who are related by marriage, or agnates, who are blood relatives. The marriage customs of the Yanomamo cause members to be more intimate to their agnates due to the many intricacies of their society. Agnates are in competition with each other for wives, and the institution of polygyny intensifies this competition; in addition, affines will always defend one another in disagreements, fights, or battle. Therefore, when a village fissions, the men tend to settle in the new village with their affines. Affines will tend to remain closer together than agnates because agnates are in competition to marry wives, and the institution of marriage is one of the paramount goals in the life of a Yanomamo male. Agnates compete because the “Yanomamo rule about marriage, insofar as it can be phrased in terms of a descent rule, is simply that everyone must marry outside of his or her own patrilineal group” (Chagnon 1997: 140). Therefore, agnates cannot exchange or provide women to each other. Because of this, they are required to marry women in separate lineages. Due to the usual shortage of marriage- eligible women, men typically will compete for their wives in the same lineage group of 1
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women. Marriage is a foremost goal amongst the Yanomamo males, and this competition can be very intense. Moreover, agnates marry into a different family, their affines’ family.
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