Rules of Descent: How Kin are Reckoned

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Describe bilateral and unilineral descent, which in turn is divided into patrilineal, marilineal, and double descent.

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Rules of Descent: How Kin are Reckoned

  1. 1. Rules of Descent Bilateral and Unilineal Kinship
  2. 2. What is Descent? <ul><li>You are descended from your mother and father by one generation. </li></ul><ul><li>You are descended from your two grandfathers and two grandmothers by two generations. </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, there are complexities: divorce, adoptions, and widowhood. But we have to start with the simple assumptions of a perfect world. These issues come later in a more advanced course. </li></ul><ul><li>When you trace these relationships back, one generation at a time, you have descent, especially when you trace them back to an ancestor. </li></ul><ul><li>Descent, in short, comprises the rules by which you reckon your kin based on your ancestry. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why Descent? <ul><li>Descent involves biology; we are dealing with biological constants. </li></ul><ul><li>Descent is the basis of the world’s original form of social organizations; it forms the basis of economics, politics, and much else that involves non-industrial societies. </li></ul><ul><li>It becomes the framework for organizations that are extensions of the family </li></ul><ul><li>It also is a means of exclusion; not everyone can be included in a particular descent group </li></ul><ul><li>Descent divides parts of a large population into groups of manageable size. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Overview of Descent <ul><li>First, we look at the notations on kinship charts and what the figures and line represent. </li></ul><ul><li>Second, we look at the system of descent most familiar to us: bilateral descent. </li></ul><ul><li>Third, we examine the two types of unilineal descent: patrilineal and unilineal </li></ul><ul><li>Fourth, in learning these rules, we ask you to perform the exercises in Chapter 7 on pp. 72-80 and follow the charts contained in the chapter. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Principles of Descent: Notation System <ul><li>Figures on the chart represent the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Triangles: males </li></ul><ul><li>Circles: females </li></ul><ul><li>Squares: either sex </li></ul><ul><li>Lines represent the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Vertical: generational link </li></ul><ul><li>Horizontal above figures: sibling link </li></ul><ul><li>Equal sign or horizontal line below figures: affinal (related through marriage) kin </li></ul><ul><li>All charts have a central figure called Ego, which in this diagram is male. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Principles of Descent: Diagrams <ul><li>Use these and other diagrams to follow the discussion in the next several slides </li></ul><ul><li>Bilateral: one reckons kin through both sexes equally (top) </li></ul><ul><li>Unilineal: one reckons kin through the male line only or the female line only </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal: the male line only (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilineal: the female line only (lower right) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Bilateral Descent: Description <ul><li>Definition: The reckoning (recognition) of kin through both the male and female sides equally. </li></ul><ul><li>This means that your father’s relatives are no more important than your mother’s relatives. </li></ul><ul><li>The cousins through your father’s side are no more important than those on your mother’s side. </li></ul><ul><li>The term itself reflects this process. </li></ul><ul><li>Bi -means that you are recognizing two of something </li></ul><ul><li>- lateral means that you are recognizing kin on your father’s side and your mother’s side. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Bilateral Descent Rules: Diagram <ul><li>This diagram reflects the definition of bilateral descent. </li></ul><ul><li>All the figures on this chart are colored green, indicating affiliation with Ego. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on closeness or distance of kin laterally </li></ul><ul><li>Bilateral reckoning is inclusive </li></ul><ul><li>Non-kin mechanisms does the exclusion; see the next two panels to see why and how. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Exercise in Kinship Reckoning <ul><li>Exercise: Give the first name of all 4 of your grandparents </li></ul><ul><li>Now mention the first names of all the siblings of all 4 of your grandparents; have you forgotten some of them? </li></ul><ul><li>Now mention the first name of all 8 of your great grandparents; have you forgotten some of these? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at how many kin you would have to keep track of: 16 great great grandparents; 64 great great great grandparents; 128 great grandparents four times over. </li></ul><ul><li>And we’re not counting all their siblings (brothers and sister), their cousins, and their children. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Descent is As Social as It Is Biological <ul><li>With that many people, you have to cut down on your potential relatives to manageable size. </li></ul><ul><li>Biological kin are socially selected in various ways </li></ul><ul><li>In Anglo-American society, bad memory does the selection. </li></ul><ul><li>Among the Gilbertese of the South Pacific, which land rights or community seat you choose determines who will be in one bilateral group or another. </li></ul><ul><li>Other cultures have other means of excluding bilateral kin. </li></ul><ul><li>As we’ll see in unilineal descent, exclusion is automatic and emphasis is on descent lines, not on sides. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Bilateral Descent: A Close-Up Diagram <ul><li>If you look at EGO, he has two parents, a male and a female </li></ul><ul><li>He is linked to other relatives through both parents—regardless of sex. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, Cousin No. 22 is no more or less a cousin than Cousin No. 26. </li></ul><ul><li>Aunt No. 3 is no less an aunt than Aunt. No. 9 </li></ul><ul><li>That’s why we say that bilateral reckoning is inclusive. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone on this chart is kin </li></ul><ul><li>We’ll compare this chart with a unilineal chart later </li></ul>
  12. 12. Unilineal Descent: Explanation <ul><li>Unilineal descent is very different from bilateral descent. </li></ul><ul><li>First, only one sex or the other is involved, not both. </li></ul><ul><li>In patrilineal descent, males only determine who will be a member of a descent group and who will not. </li></ul><ul><li>In matrilineal descent, females only determine who will be a member of a descent group and who will not. </li></ul><ul><li>In the next slide, look how members are recruited in both cases. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Descent Rules: Unilineal <ul><li>To repeat, unilineal descent is a rule of affiliation with a group of kin with descent links to the ancestor through one sex only </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal : Only male kin are reckoned, in a line of fathers and sons. </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilineal: Only female kin are reckoned, in a line of mothers and daughters. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis is on line of kin of the same sex, not on the father’s or the mother’s side. See next slide for an exercise that may clarify.. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part I <ul><li>Copy blank chart from p. 70 of Cultural Anthropology: A Concise Introduction and get a blue pen, pencil, or marker. </li></ul><ul><li>Use surname with P, for Patrilineal; the surname used as the book’s example is Petrosian </li></ul><ul><li>Name by number those persons </li></ul><ul><li>Whose surname (last name) is Petrosian at birth; </li></ul><ul><li>Who retain the surname Petrosian after marriage; and </li></ul><ul><li>Who pass the surname Petrosian on to the children. </li></ul><ul><li>Using your blue pen, mark the figures that match this description. Go to next slide for answer. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part II <ul><li>If you marked the figures with the following numbers, you’re correct: 1, 7, 19, 41, 9, 23, 45, 25 (EGO), and 47. </li></ul><ul><li>What do they all have in common? </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Each represents the son of a man; this would be true of 1 if we showed his father. (We have to stop somewhere.) </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Each figure is part of a line of males. </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: If you missed one, go to the instructions of the previous panel. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you marked one that doesn’t belong, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the diagram on p. 75 of the book to compare your results with the book’s. We’ll get to the half shaded figures in a moment. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part III <ul><li>Now go back to the chart and shade the figure on its left side those who are: </li></ul><ul><li>Born with the surname of Petrosian. </li></ul><ul><li>Who give up the surname Petrosian for another surname when married. </li></ul><ul><li>Who do not pass the surname Petrosian down to their children. </li></ul><ul><li>See answer next panel </li></ul>
  17. 17. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part IV <ul><li>If you left-shaded the figures with the following numbers, you are correct: 6, 22, 42, 28, 46, and 48 (Ego’s daughter). </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: Again go back to the instructions if you left a correct figure out. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you left-marked a figure that doesn’t belong, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare your results with the chart on p. 75. What do all these left-marked figures have in common? (There are two features.) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part V <ul><li>Now go back to our chart and right-shade those figures that are </li></ul><ul><li>Born without the surname Petrosian; </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain the surname Petrosian upon marriage; and </li></ul><ul><li>Pass the name Petrosian down to their children </li></ul><ul><li>Again, see answer next panel </li></ul>
  19. 19. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise Part VI <ul><li>If you right-shaded the figures with the following numbers, you are correct: 2, 8, 20, 10, 24, and 26 (Ego’s wife). </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: Again go back to the instructions if you left a correct figure out. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you right-marked an incorrect figure, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit </li></ul><ul><li>Compare your results with the chart on p. 75. What do those right-marked figures have in common? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Patrilineal Descent: Exercise, Part VII, Or Making It Personal <ul><li>Repeat the same exercise, this time using the surname of your own. </li></ul><ul><li>Use another chart with same format and a blue pen, marker, or pencil. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are female, used your family or maiden name, not your married one. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the results of the chart for your name with that of Petrosian; are there any differences? If so, why? If not, why not? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Lessons From This Exercise <ul><li>We reckon our kin bilaterally; under law, rules of inheritance absent a will assigns property equally to sons and daughters; cousins are reckoned the same, regardless of whose side of the family they are born into, BUT </li></ul><ul><li>Our surnaming system is patrilineal. </li></ul><ul><li>It goes down the male line: father to son to son. </li></ul><ul><li>The daughters acquire their name from their fathers, but they do not pass it down to their own children nor do they keep it (usually) when married. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Patrilineal and Bilateral Descent Compared: Affiliation <ul><li>Bilateral descent is shown to the left; patrilineal descent is shown to the right. </li></ul><ul><li>Observe that the women as well as the men are included in bilateral descent; both pass their affiliation to their children </li></ul><ul><li>Observe also that women born into the group are included in patrilineal descent, but unlike the men, they do not pass their affiliation to their children. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Patrilineal and Bilateral Descent Compared: Affiliation by Line Versus Side <ul><li>Again, bilateral descent is shown to the left; patrilineal descent is shown to the right. </li></ul><ul><li>Also note that the men in patrilineal descent form an unbroken line from father to son only; sex matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Descent is lineal —in other words, line of descent is stressed. </li></ul><ul><li>In bilateral descent, women and men pass their descent down to their children equally; sex doesn’t matter. </li></ul><ul><li>That means that everyone on the mother and father’s side is included; the laterality of descent is emphasized. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Matrilineal Descent <ul><li>There are also cultures in the world in which descent is passed down from mother to daughter and to the daughter’s daughter. </li></ul><ul><li>This is a complete reversal of sex roles; women, not men, determine the affiliation. </li></ul><ul><li>Affiliation is centered around a line of females, not males. </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat the exercise, now emphasizing descent through females </li></ul><ul><li>The next exercise repeats the one on patrilineal descent—but for matrilineal descent. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise, Part I <ul><li>Copy the chart on p. 71 with female ego shaded (No. 26); use red pen, pencil, or marker </li></ul><ul><li>Use surname starting with M for Matrilineal; in the book I use Miller. </li></ul><ul><li>Name by number those persons </li></ul><ul><li>Who have the surname Miller at birth </li></ul><ul><li>Who retain the surname upon marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Who pass the surname on to the children </li></ul>
  26. 26. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise Part II <ul><li>If you marked the figures with the following numbers, you’re correct: 4, 10, 26 (Ego), 48. 28, 28, 50, 12, 32, and 54 </li></ul><ul><li>What do they all have in common? </li></ul><ul><li>(1) Each represents the daughter of a woman; this would be true of 4 if we showed her mother. (We have to stop somewhere.) </li></ul><ul><li>(2) Each figure is part of a line of females. </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: If you missed one, go to the instructions of the previous panel. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you marked one that doesn’t belong, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the diagram on p. 77 of the book to compare your results with the book’s. We’ll get to the half shaded figures in a moment. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise Part III <ul><li>Now go back to the chart and shade the figure on its left side those who are: </li></ul><ul><li>Born with the surname of Miller. </li></ul><ul><li>Who give up the surname Miller for another surname when married. </li></ul><ul><li>Who do not pass the surname Miller down to their children. </li></ul><ul><li>See answer next panel </li></ul>
  28. 28. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise Part IV <ul><li>If you left-shaded the figures with the following numbers, you are correct: 13, 23, 47 (Ego’s son), 49, 29, and 53. </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: Again go back to the instructions if you left a correct figure out. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you left-marked a figure that doesn’t belong, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare your results with the chart on p. 77. What do all these left-marked figures have in common? (There are two features.) </li></ul>
  29. 29. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise Part V <ul><li>Now go back to our chart and right-shade those figures that are </li></ul><ul><li>Born without the surname Miller; </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain the surname Miller upon marriage; and </li></ul><ul><li>Pass the name Miller down to their children </li></ul><ul><li>Again, see answer next panel </li></ul>
  30. 30. Matrilineal Descent: Exercise Part VI <ul><li>If you right-shaded the figures with the following numbers, you are correct: 3, 9, 25 (Ego’s husband). 27, and 31 (Note: the full shade is a typo; it should be right-shaded). </li></ul><ul><li>Error I: Again go back to the instructions if you left a correct figure out. </li></ul><ul><li>Error II: If you right-marked an incorrect figure, explain to yourself why that figure doesn’t fit </li></ul><ul><li>Compare your results with the chart on p. 77. What do those right-marked figures have in common? </li></ul>
  31. 31. Matrilineal and Bilateral Descent Compared: Affiliation <ul><li>Again, bilateral descent is shown to the left; but now, matrilineal descent is shown to the right. </li></ul><ul><li>Observe that the women as well as the men are included in bilateral descent; both pass their affiliation to their children </li></ul><ul><li>Observe also that men born into the group are included in matrilineal descent, but unlike the women, they do not pass their affiliation to their children. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Matrilineal and Bilateral Descent Compared: Affiliation <ul><li>Again, bilateral descent is shown to the left and matrilineal descent is shown to the right. </li></ul><ul><li>Also note that the women in matrilineal descent form an unbroken line from mother to daughter only; sex matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Descent is lineal —in other words, line of descent is stressed. </li></ul><ul><li>In bilateral descent, women and men pass their descent down to their children equally; sex doesn’t determine affiliation. </li></ul><ul><li>That means that everyone on the mother and father’s side is included; the laterality of descent is emphasized. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Principles of Unilineal Descent Restated <ul><li>Kin not directly descended through one sex from ancestor are excluded </li></ul><ul><li>Those with females in line of patrilineal descent are excluded </li></ul><ul><li>Those with males in line of matrilineal descent are excluded </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s left? </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal kin: an unbroken line of males </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilineal kin: an unbroken line of females. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Double Descent <ul><li>A few cultures in the world reckon their kin through both patrilineal and matrilineal descent. </li></ul><ul><li>If you consider that we have a patrilineal naming system in a bilateral society, this should not appear to be so strange. </li></ul><ul><li>But double descent is not the same as bilateral descent; it is a combination of both unilineal systems. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Double (Unilineal) Descent <ul><li>Definition: The coexistence of patrilineal and matrilineal descent in the same culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilineal descent exists for some purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilineal descent exists for other purposes. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the bilateral diagram on p. 73 of the text with double descent diagram on p. 79. </li></ul><ul><li>Are some people excluded on p. 79 who would not be excluded on p. 73? A partial answer is on the next panel. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Double Descent: The Case of the Yakö <ul><li>Yakö of SE Nigeria show that some people are indeed excluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Living in a dense community called Umor, the Yakö combined cultivation with cattle herding </li></ul><ul><li>They had a system of property divided between the sexes </li></ul><ul><li>Male property comprised land, trees, houses, and cattle. </li></ul><ul><li>Female property included household items, coins. </li></ul><ul><li>They also had a unique system of inheritance </li></ul><ul><li>All immovable property was inherited patrilineally </li></ul><ul><li>All moveable property was inherited matrilineally </li></ul><ul><li>This leaves us a riddle; see next slide. </li></ul>
  37. 37. A Riddle: Who Has the Cow, Man? (Sorry, Bart) <ul><li>Here is the riddle: </li></ul><ul><li>By definition of patrilineal inheritance, immoveable male property is inherited by sons from their fathers: land, houses, orchards. </li></ul><ul><li>Female property which is moveable. is inherited by daughters from their mothers: household goods, fruits from the orchards. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet cattle, which is male property. is moveable </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore it is inherited matrilineally </li></ul><ul><li>Question: from the herdsman (No. 13 on the diagram on p. 79 or on p. 77), who inherits the cattle? </li></ul><ul><li>Hint: The heir has to be consanguineal kin. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Give Up? <ul><li>The cattle go from the mother’s brother (Bo. 13) to sister’s son (No. 29, or No. 23 or No. 25) </li></ul><ul><li>This relationship is known as the avunculate, the relationship between mother’s brother. </li></ul><ul><li>It recurs in other societies; this is well-known in The Trobriand Islanders, for example </li></ul><ul><li>A Kanguru legend involves this relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re interested, check it out on www.unis.org/class/anthro/Rabbit_and_Hyena.htm </li></ul>
  39. 39. Importance of Descent <ul><li>Bilateral descent: allows flexibility of kin reckoning; you can actually select whom to associate with in some societies </li></ul><ul><li>Unilineal descent entails automatic inclusion and exclusion of kin based on sex of linking relative </li></ul><ul><li>Both types form the basis of economic rights and obligations, of political affiliation and alliances, and even ancestral worship. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Coming Up Next <ul><li>The roots of kinship, namely sex and gender, is next—and they are two different concepts. </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage, including its definition and varied functions </li></ul><ul><li>Family types that arise from marriage, including multiple marriages and postmarital residence </li></ul><ul><li>Larger kin units and groups that are extensions of the family. </li></ul><ul><li>How marriages form political alliances </li></ul><ul><li>Kinship terminology: what it reflects </li></ul>

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