Descent Units and Groups


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Desines demonstrated and stipulated descent; lineages, and clans; looks at descent units and groups; defines the attributes of corporate kin groups

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Descent Units and Groups

  1. 1. Kinship Units and Groups Cultural Anthropology
  2. 2. Demonstrated and Stipulated Descent: Lineages and Clans <ul><li>Demonstrated Descent: Descent is traced through all linking males/females to the ancestor. </li></ul><ul><li>Stipulated descent: Descent from ancestor is assumed and cannot be traced through linking kin. </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, groups with demonstrated descent are smaller than those with stipulated descent. </li></ul><ul><li>Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members demonstrate, or trace their ancestry </li></ul><ul><li>Clans are unilineal descent groups that assume, or stipulate, their ancestry </li></ul>
  3. 3. Lineages <ul><li>Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members can demonstrate their descent to a common ancestor </li></ul><ul><li>Lineages divide or segment into smaller ones </li></ul><ul><li>This model of a segmentary lineage shows how it works </li></ul><ul><li>The minimal lineage is the smallest lineage (3-4 generations) </li></ul><ul><li>It can be a part of ever larger lineages: minor segment, major segment up to the maximal lineage </li></ul>
  4. 4. Principles of Lineage Formation and Segmentation <ul><li>The preceding diagram illustrates this process: </li></ul><ul><li>Suppose an extended family gets too large; the family divides into two. </li></ul><ul><li>These families may still retain their ties as lineages </li></ul><ul><li>When lineages get large, they divide into two, as the preceding diagram shows. </li></ul><ul><li>They may retain affiliation as even larger lineages, such as the maximal lineage in the diagram. </li></ul><ul><li>This process can continue indefinitely or even evolve into clans; see next diagram. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Clans <ul><li>Clans are unilineal descent unitsw hose members can only stipulate t heir descent to a common ancestor </li></ul><ul><li>Clans tend to include smaller lineages and extended families, as shown here. </li></ul><ul><li>So over time, the process can go from extended families to lineages to clans. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Descent Units and Descent Groups <ul><li>Descent organizes larger kin as well </li></ul><ul><li>Descent units that encompass members, but do not necessarily organize their members; Navajo clans are not </li></ul><ul><li>Descent groups are organized around particular functions, especially assets. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Descent Units <ul><li>A group of kin descended unilineally or bilaterally who reckon their descent for some purpose but who are not necessarily organized </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Navajo are members of matrilineal clans that are dispersed throughout the countryside. </li></ul><ul><li>Their main function is hospitality, which is obligatory—you must put up a fellow clan member who happens by for the night. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Descent Groups (Corporate Groups) <ul><li>Are organized descent units with the following characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>First, it own an estate: land, cattle, or fishing/hunting ground </li></ul><ul><li>The estate may be owned by group or it may be owned by their constituent families </li></ul><ul><li>Masai of East Africa are corporate lineages and clans even though it’s the extended families who own their cattle herds. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Descent Groups: Rights and Obligations <ul><li>Estate entails rights and obligations </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: a man may have rights to cattle of other families in the clan for bridewealth </li></ul><ul><li>But he also has the obligation to provide cattle for the bridewealth of other kinsmen. </li></ul><ul><li>He also has the obligation to defend herds (or add to them), as was true of the Masai, </li></ul><ul><li>Among the Fulani, if one descent group loses its cattle herd due to disease, other descent groups contribute to the replenishment of the first group;s herd </li></ul>
  10. 10. Descent Groups: Perpetuity <ul><li>The lineage or clan is sociocentric; i t outlasts the life span of individuals, not unlike corporations, whose loss of staff through downsizing does not kill the company. </li></ul><ul><li>Lineages and clans contrasts with kindreds, which are egocentric, or centered in particular persons. </li></ul><ul><li>A bilateral kindred comprises full brothers and sisters, which overlaps with other kindreds with different sets of full brothers and sisters. </li></ul><ul><li>When full siblings die, the kindred itself dies </li></ul>
  11. 11. Legal Persons <ul><li>Corporations are defined as legal persons similar to descent groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Among the Kwakiutl of the Northwest Coast, murder of a noble of one clan by a commoner of another requires death of noble of commoner’s clan, or bloodwealth as compensation. </li></ul><ul><li>Responsibility for the murder is thereby collective </li></ul><ul><li>In New Guinea: murder requires revenge--regardless of the circumstance. </li></ul><ul><li>Collective responsibility is a hallmark of groups defined as a legal person. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Patrilineal Descent Units/Groups <ul><li>Patrilocal extended families undergo division, as you have seen. </li></ul><ul><li>They can keep ties through lineages as they segment and form larger lineages </li></ul><ul><li>The process continues indefinitely, and at the end, they may form clans. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Matrilineal Descent Units/Groups <ul><li>Matrilineal segmentation is somewhat similar to patrilineal segmentation. </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilocal extended families undergo similar division and keep ties again through lineages </li></ul><ul><li>Process continues indefinitely and may also form clans over the long term. </li></ul><ul><li>Main difference is the conflict in the role of the brother and that of the husband </li></ul><ul><li>The two male authority figures compete for power within the matrilineage, and often the brother wins out </li></ul><ul><li>Usually, therefore segmentation involves two persons; the brother who wields authority and the sister who provides the matrilineal affiliation. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Nonunilineal or Ambilineal Descent Groups <ul><li>Ambilineal descent groups develop from ambilocal extended families--whose descent is bilateral </li></ul><ul><li>Each couple chooses residence based on economic advantage, as we saw among couples in the Gilberts </li></ul><ul><li>Both husband and wife belong to separate kaingas </li></ul><ul><li>The kainga is a landholding unit </li></ul><ul><li>When the couple chooses residence, the spouse leaving her/his residence retains rights to her/his kainga, but these rights do not pass to his/her child </li></ul>
  15. 15. Ambilocal Descent Group: Conditions <ul><li>Ambilineal groups are usually found are usually where land is circumscribed by geography, such as islands or restricted mountainous regions, and where populations shift rapidly from one region to another </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, Scottish clans are actually ambilineal groups. There, arable land is restricted in the highlands of Scotland </li></ul>
  16. 16. Marriage as Alliance <ul><li>Another function of marriage is alliance formation between lineages, clans, tribes, or even nations. </li></ul><ul><li>In European history, peace between nations was sealed by monarchial marriage. </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo: highest alliance is sealed by marriage outside the village. </li></ul><ul><li>Women marry their cross-cousins, affording her some kind of protection against an abusive husband. </li></ul><ul><li>She has no such protection if she marries outside; marriage outside the village must reflect high degree of trust. </li></ul><ul><li>The main ways to secure alliance are bridewealth and exchange marriage </li></ul>
  17. 17. Bridewealth <ul><li>More than a marriage transaction </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of daughter: loss of reproductivity </li></ul><ul><li>Loss must be compensated. </li></ul><ul><li>Bridewealth </li></ul><ul><li>Entails payment by groom’s kin to wife’s kin </li></ul><ul><li>Ensures that wife’s kin attracts wives for its sons </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthens bond of kin through network of obligations </li></ul>
  18. 18. Bride Labor and Dowry <ul><li>Theme and variation: son proves his worth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensures that wife will be looked after </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dowry (p. 252) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transfer of wealth from wife’s family to husband </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Condition: he looks after wife’s welfare even after his own death </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An assurance that woman’s status is on par with husband’s </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Exchange Theory: Mauss’s Analysis of the Gift <ul><li>Exchange Creates and maintains ties between two groups </li></ul><ul><li>Three obligations </li></ul><ul><li>To give: to form ties </li></ul><ul><li>To receive </li></ul><ul><li>To cement ties </li></ul><ul><li>Failure: creates hostilities </li></ul><ul><li>To repay </li></ul><ul><li>Failure makes the recipient a beggar </li></ul><ul><li>Results in his/her inferior status </li></ul>
  20. 20. Parallel and Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Parallel cousin marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Father’s brother’s child or </li></ul><ul><li>Mother’s sister’s child </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-cousin marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Sister’s brother’s child </li></ul><ul><li>Mother’s brother’s child </li></ul>
  21. 21. Patrilateral Parallel Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Father’s brother’s children belong to same patrilineal descent unit </li></ul><ul><li>Practiced among Arab nomadic peoples </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Rwala Bedouin </li></ul><ul><li>Serves to preserve wealth within extended family or lineage </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantage: limitation on alliance/network </li></ul>
  22. 22. Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Partner is always outside one’s own lineage or clan </li></ul><ul><li>Illustration </li></ul><ul><li>Mother’s brother’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of the brother </li></ul><ul><li>Father’s sister’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of sister’s husband </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion: cross-cousins always belong to different lineages or clans </li></ul>
  23. 23. Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Definition: marriage of man to his mother’s brother’s daughter </li></ul><ul><li>Man is woman’s father’s sister’s son </li></ul><ul><li>Reference point is always male </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when everyone practices matrilateral cross-cousin marriage </li></ul><ul><li>There are at least 3 groups </li></ul><ul><li>They marry in a circle </li></ul><ul><li>Diagram illustrates why </li></ul>
  24. 24. Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage: Alliance Patterns <ul><li>Effects on social status </li></ul><ul><li>Group B takes wife from Group A </li></ul><ul><li>Group B can never return favor with wife from own group </li></ul><ul><li>Why: man from Group A would marry father’s sister’s daughter </li></ul><ul><li>“ Violates” matrilateral cross-cousin rule </li></ul><ul><li>Result: B is “beggar” to A: likewise C to B </li></ul><ul><li>Has effect in stratified states, as will be seen </li></ul>
  25. 25. Patrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Woman is man’s father’s sister’s daughter </li></ul><ul><li>But man is woman’s mother’s brother’s son </li></ul><ul><li>Again, male is reference point </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern is somewhat more complicated </li></ul><ul><li>and rarer in occurrence </li></ul><ul><li>Structural implications will be bypassed </li></ul>
  26. 26. Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Two definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Man marries either </li></ul><ul><li>Mother’s brother’s daughter or </li></ul><ul><li>Father’s sister’s daughter OR </li></ul><ul><li>He marries both </li></ul><ul><li>Mother’s brother’s daughter or </li></ul><ul><li>Father’s sister’s daughter </li></ul><ul><li>This diagram shows how </li></ul>
  27. 27. Alliance Patterns: Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage <ul><li>Results </li></ul><ul><li>If you have only two lineages </li></ul><ul><li>And everyone does it </li></ul><ul><li>You have only one choice: cross cousin </li></ul><ul><li>An ideal type </li></ul><ul><li>Only one male and only one female </li></ul><ul><li>Applied to Yanomamo, every marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Involves a cross-cousin tie (p 146. 148) </li></ul><ul><li>Strong because it involves future spouses </li></ul>
  28. 28. Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage: Results <ul><li>Fissioning village, </li></ul><ul><li>Villages always divide in pairs </li></ul><ul><li>Two kinds of people: your kin and your future spouse’s kin </li></ul><ul><li>Kin terms </li></ul><ul><li>Iroquois cousin terminology: </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel cousins: same as brother and sister </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-cousin: </li></ul><ul><li>Suaboya: female cross cousin and wife </li></ul><ul><li>Hearoya: male cross-cousin and husband </li></ul>
  29. 29. Importance of Kin Terms: Bilateral <ul><li>Reflect how cousins are to behave toward each other </li></ul><ul><li>Hawaiian: all cousins merge siblings with cousins </li></ul><ul><li>Bilateral: marriage outside kin </li></ul><ul><li>Eskimo: our own: immediate siblings separated from cousins </li></ul><ul><li>Often found with nuclear families </li></ul>
  30. 30. Importance of Kin Terms: Unilineal <ul><li>Iroquois: Parallel cousins merged with siblings </li></ul><ul><li>Separated from cross cousins </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo: give indication of marriageable partners </li></ul><ul><li>Guinea: Cross-cousins separated from immediate siblings and parallel cousins, </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilateral and patrilateral cousins also separated </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests matrilateral or patrilateral cross-cousin marriage is preferred </li></ul>
  31. 31. Kinship Terminology <ul><li>Much more could be said </li></ul><ul><li>Omaha and Crow reflect </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal and matrilineal relations, respectively </li></ul><ul><li>Main point: terms are “markers” of basic relationships </li></ul>
  32. 32. Conclusion: Value of Marriage and Kinship <ul><li>Involves how gender relations are managed </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual relations </li></ul><ul><li>Division of labor </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage and childbirth </li></ul><ul><li>Involves relations outside immediate realm of kin </li></ul><ul><li>Economic rights and obligations (next) </li></ul><ul><li>Social control through other institutions </li></ul>