Kinship - UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES g OTHERS by 5"” L...

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Unformatted text preview: UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES g OTHERS by 5"”? L ’ UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY I If” I W T?“ m ; mm «’a is; $1. 4. “as Figure 10.1 Kinship Kins/lip is 11 cultural system by which Il‘t? identify all llu‘ iimlllicrs ofozlrfimzily boll! present and past. Tlircv generations oft/1c Bustfiimili/ sit for n Mother’s Day portrait at the Photographic Cl‘lllt’l’ ofl'ltzrlcnz. Al left is Mnrillu 80515 with her mollicr, Edit/L rind Brim] Dunn, Edit/1's grandson. Tlic Kt‘llit‘ clolli m the background is from Clzrmnt like the Scottish tarlmis/ its colors lelcrminv wlml specific region 0118’s flimily is from. Tilt’filll Edit/I is llUlrlillfq is a symbol of the llm l’l'lllt' of Nigeria. 'l‘lzouglz slu’ doesn’t own if, Edit/i fell il rape resented lu’rfimzil/s l'u'ritage iii-EAPTER {:BZBJECTEVES A/lflcr reading this chapter, you slumld be able to: Explain the relationship of kinship to descent. Explain the varieties of cognatic (or nonunilineal) descent. Explain the varieties of unilineal descent. IOutline the characteristics of the various kinds of unilineal descent groups. Describe the various kinds of ambilineal descent groups. Explain the functions of moieties. Describe bilateral (or noncorporate) descent groups (kindreds). Discuss the evolution of descent groups. List the six common types of kinship terminologies. Explain the building blocks of kinship terminologies. Explain the conditions that foster each of the six common kinship terminology systems. Analyze the concept of fictive kinship. KENSHIF” {SEESCENT RULES Bilateral Descent Ambilineal Descent Lnilineal Descent ETESVEN? GROUPS Li neal Descent Groups Bilateral Descent Groups The Evolution of Descent Groups £4; a NSHiP TERM s NOLQGY Hawaiian Eskimo Omaha Crow Iroquois Sudanese FECTEVE E‘CINSMEF” CHAPTER 10 / KINSHIP AND DESCENT tunian beings all over the world dist squish their kin from other people. in this <, nipter, we t‘i ill see how the concept of kinship based on ‘i'arious ways of thinking about how iiiiltiren are descended from one or both of their panjr‘it:~i and how these parent~ used to build up net‘ivorlw that define people related to one another by kinsl" ‘” learn to i‘i_‘r:o;;.;iiize different Lit men' sistenis, 'Li descent, in”: are some based on. the concept oi dew-em from only one parert in each genera based on the ents. We will ot kinsi _ grot psi can grow out of tl‘cwe iliffcr~ ent wa}. s oi ii;- " you will he‘- kinship ‘oi'icept of dearer . ~ ,... r‘ hen L‘t)fll-itit’§' how glitter: n x u ingT those related to ‘tti‘iilV, .2 :, ,..=.i‘oduced to the most cmarnon terminiHogies, the systems fer twining reiati'x'e» tint ax related to the ways in which people think about descent. Brother, can you spare a dime? I'm my own grandpa. Sister Sledge. Auntie Mame. Uncle Vanya. Is my mother’s new husband’s ex~wife’s daughter my stepsister? When my mother’s sis— ter married a man who already had children, did they become my cousins? It I married a widow and my new stepdaughter married my father, would my father’s new son be my half brother or my stepgrandson? How we are re— lated to each other depends on which system of kinship our society utilizes. Kinship is a very human concept. it is the way we keep track of our relationships to our kin, those who are connected to us by some com- bination of descent and marriage. Those kin who are related to us by descent, that is by the connections between parents and their off— spring, are our consanguines. You are. one of my consanguinal kin if we can find a chain of connected parent-child ties that stretches from you to me. My children are linked to me, their common parent, by a chain one link long. Any two of my children are related to each other by a chain of two similar links, one link connecting one of them to me and the other link connect— ing me to the second child. My only niece is my mother’s eldest daughter's daughter: she is three parent-child links away from me among my consanguinal kin. Kin who are related through marriage link are known as affines. My affinal relatives are the consanguinal kin of my spouse or the spouse of any of my consan— guinals. They are, in other words, my in—laws. In any human community, some people are thought of as “kin” and others as “not kin,” and a particular society’s way of defining who are kin may not give equal weight to all con-— nections between parents and their offspring. As we shall see, for instance, in many societies, children may be thought of as kin to only one of their parents. Thus, more formally, kinship is a system for classifying people who are deemed to be related through culturally de— fined parent-child ties or marriage ties. The cultural recognition of children as kin of one or both of their parents is the basis of the concept of descent. It is understood in most cul- tures as a biological relationship between chil— dren and parents. While in some societies, such as Canada and the United States, descent is reckoned through both parents, in others it is traced only through fathers or only through mothers. Bilateral Descent If parents came in only one sex, it would be a lot simpler to define our kin. Since they come in two varieties that play different roles in the production of children, the story becomes more complex. For instance, a brother—sister relation— ship can be traced by the links to a common mother or by links to the same father. Either way works, and contemporary US. culture, like that of the Siberian Chukchee or the US. Great kin relatives based on descent and/or marriage descent the cultural recognition of kinship connec- tions between a child and one or both of his or her parent’s kin consanguines kin related by ties of descent affines kin related through a marriage link kinship a system for classifying people who are re— lated to one another by ties of descent or by ties of marriage DESCENT RULES 245 SYMBOL MEANING ego The person whose genealogy is being traced RELATIVES Mo Mother Fa Father Br Brother Z Sister 80 Son Da Daughter llCu Parallel cousin, a cousin linked to ego through parents of the same sex (i.e., ego's mother's sister‘s child or egb’s father’s brother’s child) XCu Cross cousin, a cousin linked to ego through parents of the opposite sex (i.e., ego‘s mother‘s brother’s child or ego’s father’s sister’s child) SEX: Male Female DESCENT: Son of Daughter of O MARRIAGE: SlBLlNGS: Brother of Sister of FAMILY: A husband and wife Ego, ego‘s brother and sister, and their father and mother Ego INTERPRETING KINSHIP‘ DIAGRAMS Kinship diagrams are drawn using a variety of standard symbols. Those shown here are among the most com- mon, and will be used later in this text. The simple family Basin Ute, considers either chain to be equally valid. 50 it lets me simply say that my sister and I share the same parents and lets it go at that. This system is based on the principle of bilateral descent, a rule that: asserts that we are equally descended from both parents and lets us count relatives on both our mother’s and father's side of the family. The bilateral system is a common approach. In about 36 percent of societies, people consider links through both parents as equally valid ways of reckoning their own kin. diagram at the bottom could be easily expanded us- ing the same symbols to show ego’s uncles, aunts, and cousins. Can you figure out how to do it? .Ambilineal Descent A variation on the bilateral theme is the idea that we may consider ourselves descended through parents of either sex, but we must choose only one parent for each link that con- nects a group of relatives. This system, fol— lowed in less than 1 percent of societies, is bilateral descent a system of tracing descent lines equally through both parents FIGURE 10.2 246 FIGURE 10.3 FIGU RE 10.4 CHAPTER 10 / KINSHIP AND DESCENT 331 “Ta BILATERAL DESCENT In bilateral descent, ego is considered to be de- scended equally from both parents and, therefore, from an increasing number of ancestors on both sides of ego’s family, as shown in white. it 5235M Mme AMBILINEAL DESCENT Ego’s relatives are shown in white. In ambiiineal de- scent, ego’s ancestors can be traced through either the father or mother, but not both. Membership in the traditional Scottish clans was based on genealo» gies that were traced in this way. ambilineal descent. Using the concept of am— bilineal descent, a child might be designated as a relative of either the motl’her s kin or the fa— ther’s kin, but not both. A decision has to be made in each generation about which parent’s group the children will be part of, but the con- nection may be established through the father in one generation and through the mother in another. The ancient Scottish clans were built up in such a way, so that the relatives who made up a particular clan all could trace them— selves back to the founding ancestor of the clan, but not consistently through parents of the same sex. When grouped by bilateral descent, rela- tives spread out on both sides of a person’s family, creating two groups of equally related kin for each person In the ambilineal ap- proach, a less predictable group of relatives is created, one made up of individual families who belong to the entire group in some cases because the father is a member and in other cases because the mother is a member. These two descent systems are sometimes referred to by the general terms cognatic or nonunilineal descent systems. Unilineal Descent Most societies have a narrower way of building up a group of kin that follows a principle called unilineal descent, descent through a single sex line, either the father or the mother, rather than through both parents equally. About 44 percent of all societies that anthropologists have studied, including the ancient Greeks, the Lau of Fiji, the Mission Indians of southern California, and the Mossi of the Sudan, follow the system of reckon— ing kin by insisting that kin are only those who are joined by father-child tics. This rule for group— ing relatives is called patrilineal descent, since it defines children as offspring of their fathers only ambilineal descent a system of tracing descent through a parent of either sex, choosing only one parent for each link that connects a group of relatives cognatic (nonunilineal) descent a system of tracing descent bilaterally or ambilmeally nonunilineal descent cognatic descent unilineal descent a system of tracing descent through a single sex line rather than through both parents equally patrilineal descent a system of descent traced through fathers only Patrilineality is commonly followed in situ— ations that require male solidarity, for instance in work requiring heavy cooperative labor or in feuding between neighboring groups. On the other hand, the Navajo of Arizona and New Mexico, the Tuareg of the Sahara De— sert, and the Caribbean Goajiro are equally con- vinced that mother—child links alone should be used. Their approach to counting kin is based upon the principle of matrilineal descent. It is shared by about 15 percent of the world’s so— cieties. Matrilineality is an effective means of unifying groups of women as decision-making bodies. It is commonly followed as a principle of kinship in societies where men are often ab- sent from the local community. In about 5 percent of societies, a person may have two separate sets of kin, one desig- nated only through mothers and the other only through fathers. Such a kinship-determining rule, called double descent or double unilineal descent, may be a useful way of keeping track of relatives if, for instance, some property—say, houses and gardens—is inherited from the par— ent of one sex and other property—say, relig- ious rituals and gardening tools—is passed down through the opposite line. Just as patril- ineal and matrilineal descent: may coexist, am- bilineal or bilateral descent may co—occur with matrilineal or patrilineal descent so long as there is some socially useful reason for keeping track of each group, \ ‘éiifiié $2: $53: is? “i“ égi Wei} é} Wfi In all societies, there are social groups whose membership is based on descent. Membership in descent groups may be defined either by the sharing of a common ancestor or by the sharing of a common living relative. Groups whose members share a common ancestor are called lineal descent groups or corporate descent groups. Descent groups whose members share a living relative are associated with bilateral de- scent and are called bilateral descent groups. Lineal Descent Groups There are two kinds of lineal descent groups: unilineal and ambilineal. Unilineal descent groups are social groups that are based on either patrilineal or matrilineal descent reckon— ing. Ambilineal descent groups are groups DESCENT GROUPS £93 j : (El 1 l: A Ego ¢ P t '- O} 'i’le%"§ A a“ PATRILINEAL DESCENT In pair/lineal descent, a chain of father-child ties links ego to his or her ancestors. Each generation within the descent line consists of siblings who belong to the line of their father and his siblings. Only children of males will continue the line. The children of female members of a patrilineal descent line will belong to their husbands’ descent lines. Ego’s patrilinea/ rela- tives are shown in white. whose members trace their relationship to the common ancestor by using ambilineal descent rules. Both unilineal and ambilineal descent groups share one important characteristic: they matrilineal descent a system of descent traced through mothers only double descent (double unilineal descent) a system of tracing two separate sets of kin, one desig— nated through mothers only and the other through fathers only double unilineal descent double descent lineal descent groups groups whose members share a. common ancestor corporate descent groups lineal descent groups bilateral descent groups groups whose members share a living relative unilineal descent group a system of tracing social groups based on a matrilineal or patrilineal de— scent system ambi'lineal descent group a system of tracing social groups based on an ambilineal descent system 247 F'lGU RE 10.5 248 FiGuRE 'l 0.6 CHAPTER 10 / KINSHIP AND DESCENT .. Matri- — O } lineally _ A4 related it it kin MATRILINEAL DESCENT In matrilineal descent, a chain of mother-child ties links ego to his or her ancestors. Each generation Within the descent line consists of siblings who be- long to the line of their mother and her siblings. Only children of females will continue the line. The chil— dren of male members of a matrilineal descent line will belong to their Wives’ descent lines. Ego‘s ma- tri/ineal relatives are shown in White. are corporate groups, or organizations that con— tinue to exist even though their individual members change over the generations, and they can legally perform secial functions such as owning property, conducting ceremonies, regulating marriages, disciplining their own members, or engaging in legal processes or warfare with other groups. Corporate groups are typically named to symbolize their exist— ence as a social entity. Lineages. A lineage is a kin group that traces its descent from a known common an— cestor. When members trace their genealogical ties to the common ancestor through matrilin— eal descent, it is known as a matrilineage; a lineage based on ties of patrilineal descent is a patrilineage. Lineages that are formed using an ambilineal descent principle are called cognatic lineages or sometimes ramages or septs. In all three cases, the lineage continues to exist as generations pass. Older members may die, and new members may be born, but so long as the common ancestry is remembered, the surviving members can view themselves as part of a com— mon body of relatives that can carry out com— mon goals. Lineages are typically named for the common ancestor from which its members are descended. Since each successive generation may pro~ duce more surviving offspring than made up the previous generation, a lineage may gradu— ally increase in the size of its living member— ship. Thus, lineages as small as 30 or 40 people may grow to encompass thousands of mem— bers. Since growing populations tend to spread out from the location of their ancestral home— lands, local segments of a lineage may become involved in activities in which it would be un— wieldy and unnecessary to call together all members. So, growing lineages often fission into smaller sublineages over the generations. Clans. As generations pass, lineage mem- bership may reach such numbers and such dis- tance from the common ancestry that their exact genealogical ties are no longer remembered, even though surviving members of the total group still regard themselves as relatives. A cor— porate kinship group of this type is called a clan or sometimes a sib. Clans may also be dif— ferentiated by the rule of descent through which membership is defined. Thus, anthro— pologists speak of either matriclans, patriclans, or cognatic (or ambilineal) clans, depending on the descent rule. lineage a kinship group whose members can trace their lines of descent to the same ancestor matrilineage a system of tracing descent lines through mothers patrilineage a system of tracing descent lines through fathers cognative lineages (ramages, septs) lineages formed using an ambilineal descent system ramages cognatic lineages septs cognatic lineages clan kinship group whose members believe them— selves to be descended from a common ancestor far enough in the past that they cannot trace their specific genealogical ties to one another sib clan matriclan clan based on matrilineal descent patriclan clan based on patrilineal descent cognatic clan (ambilineal clan) clan based on am— bilineal descent is t i t .t .mmmmwmwmaw aMMwmaMWwW/V “WWW” at t E l i E i DESCENT GROUPS HOW A PERSON CAN BE HIS OWN GRANDFATHER I married a widow who had a daughter. My father visited our home frequently, fell in love and mar— ried my stepdaughter. Thus my father became my son-in-law, and my stepdaughter my mother, be- cause she was my father‘s wife. My stepdaughter had also a son; he was of course my brother and at the same time my grandchild, for he was the son of my daughter. My wife was my grand- mother, because she was my mother’s mother. I The common ancestor of a clan may be so far removed in time that his or her identity may no longer be remembered accurately. As the an— cestor’s life story is passed down the genera— tions, it may become altered and embroidered with tales that represent the values of clan members more than historical fact. The ances— tor may take on heroic proportions and as por— trayed by succeeding generations may become more mythological than real. The process by which the folk memories of an important per— son may become increasingly filled with symbol- ism that can elevate him or her to a superhuman level is one that operates even in literate socie— ties. In the United States, for instance, children hear mythologized stories of George Washing— ton’s inability to tell a lie, and about his having thrown a silver dollar across a river that is, in some versions, Virginia’s smaller Rappahan— nock and, in others, Washington, D.C.’s nearly mile—wide Potomac. Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, is remembered as having freed all the slaves in the United States, rather than as just having promised freedom to South- ern slaves who joined the Union in fighting the Confederates. When such stories continue to be embellished over many generations, a time may come when it becomes difficult to identify the historically real from the mythological, and the stories about clan ancestors in traditionally nonliterate societies are frequently so filled with superhuman elements that it is impossible to demonstrate that the founder of the clan re— ally existed except in folklore. Indeed, a sym- bolic ancestor of an existing clan may not even be a human at all. For instance, symbolic clan ancestors are often important animals, plants, or, less often, geograph...
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