Descent Units and Groups

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Information about Descent Units and Groups

Published on January 16, 2008

Author: PaulVMcDowell

Source: slideshare.net

Description

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

Kinship Units and Groups Cultural Anthropology

Demonstrated and Stipulated Descent: Lineages and Clans Demonstrated Descent: Descent is traced through all linking males/females to the ancestor. Stipulated descent: Descent from ancestor is assumed and cannot be traced through linking kin. Generally, groups with demonstrated descent are smaller than those with stipulated descent. Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members demonstrate, or trace their ancestry Clans are unilineal descent groups that assume, or stipulate, their ancestry

Demonstrated Descent: Descent is traced through all linking males/females to the ancestor.

Stipulated descent: Descent from ancestor is assumed and cannot be traced through linking kin.

Generally, groups with demonstrated descent are smaller than those with stipulated descent.

Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members demonstrate, or trace their ancestry

Clans are unilineal descent groups that assume, or stipulate, their ancestry

Lineages Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members can demonstrate their descent to a common ancestor Lineages divide or segment into smaller ones This model of a segmentary lineage shows how it works The minimal lineage is the smallest lineage (3-4 generations) It can be a part of ever larger lineages: minor segment, major segment up to the maximal lineage

Lineages are unilineal descent units whose members can demonstrate their descent to a common ancestor

Lineages divide or segment into smaller ones

This model of a segmentary lineage shows how it works

The minimal lineage is the smallest lineage (3-4 generations)

It can be a part of ever larger lineages: minor segment, major segment up to the maximal lineage

Principles of Lineage Formation and Segmentation The preceding diagram illustrates this process: Suppose an extended family gets too large; the family divides into two. These families may still retain their ties as lineages When lineages get large, they divide into two, as the preceding diagram shows. They may retain affiliation as even larger lineages, such as the maximal lineage in the diagram. This process can continue indefinitely or even evolve into clans; see next diagram.

The preceding diagram illustrates this process:

Suppose an extended family gets too large; the family divides into two.

These families may still retain their ties as lineages

When lineages get large, they divide into two, as the preceding diagram shows.

They may retain affiliation as even larger lineages, such as the maximal lineage in the diagram.

This process can continue indefinitely or even evolve into clans; see next diagram.

Clans Clans are unilineal descent unitsw hose members can only stipulate t heir descent to a common ancestor Clans tend to include smaller lineages and extended families, as shown here. So over time, the process can go from extended families to lineages to clans.

Clans are unilineal descent unitsw hose members can only stipulate t heir descent to a common ancestor

Clans tend to include smaller lineages and extended families, as shown here.

So over time, the process can go from extended families to lineages to clans.

Descent Units and Descent Groups Descent organizes larger kin as well Descent units that encompass members, but do not necessarily organize their members; Navajo clans are not Descent groups are organized around particular functions, especially assets.

Descent organizes larger kin as well

Descent units that encompass members, but do not necessarily organize their members; Navajo clans are not

Descent groups are organized around particular functions, especially assets.

Descent Units A group of kin descended unilineally or bilaterally who reckon their descent for some purpose but who are not necessarily organized Example: Navajo are members of matrilineal clans that are dispersed throughout the countryside. Their main function is hospitality, which is obligatory—you must put up a fellow clan member who happens by for the night.

A group of kin descended unilineally or bilaterally who reckon their descent for some purpose but who are not necessarily organized

Example: Navajo are members of matrilineal clans that are dispersed throughout the countryside.

Their main function is hospitality, which is obligatory—you must put up a fellow clan member who happens by for the night.

Descent Groups (Corporate Groups) Are organized descent units with the following characteristics First, it own an estate: land, cattle, or fishing/hunting ground The estate may be owned by group or it may be owned by their constituent families Masai of East Africa are corporate lineages and clans even though it’s the extended families who own their cattle herds.

Are organized descent units with the following characteristics

First, it own an estate: land, cattle, or fishing/hunting ground

The estate may be owned by group or it may be owned by their constituent families

Masai of East Africa are corporate lineages and clans even though it’s the extended families who own their cattle herds.

Descent Groups: Rights and Obligations Estate entails rights and obligations Examples: a man may have rights to cattle of other families in the clan for bridewealth But he also has the obligation to provide cattle for the bridewealth of other kinsmen. He also has the obligation to defend herds (or add to them), as was true of the Masai, 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

Estate entails rights and obligations

Examples: a man may have rights to cattle of other families in the clan for bridewealth

But he also has the obligation to provide cattle for the bridewealth of other kinsmen.

He also has the obligation to defend herds (or add to them), as was true of the Masai,

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

Descent Groups: Perpetuity 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. Lineages and clans contrasts with kindreds, which are egocentric, or centered in particular persons. A bilateral kindred comprises full brothers and sisters, which overlaps with other kindreds with different sets of full brothers and sisters. When full siblings die, the kindred itself dies

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.

Lineages and clans contrasts with kindreds, which are egocentric, or centered in particular persons.

A bilateral kindred comprises full brothers and sisters, which overlaps with other kindreds with different sets of full brothers and sisters.

When full siblings die, the kindred itself dies

Legal Persons Corporations are defined as legal persons similar to descent groups. 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. Responsibility for the murder is thereby collective In New Guinea: murder requires revenge--regardless of the circumstance. Collective responsibility is a hallmark of groups defined as a legal person.

Corporations are defined as legal persons similar to descent groups.

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.

Responsibility for the murder is thereby collective

In New Guinea: murder requires revenge--regardless of the circumstance.

Collective responsibility is a hallmark of groups defined as a legal person.

Patrilineal Descent Units/Groups Patrilocal extended families undergo division, as you have seen. They can keep ties through lineages as they segment and form larger lineages The process continues indefinitely, and at the end, they may form clans.

Patrilocal extended families undergo division, as you have seen.

They can keep ties through lineages as they segment and form larger lineages

The process continues indefinitely, and at the end, they may form clans.

Matrilineal Descent Units/Groups Matrilineal segmentation is somewhat similar to patrilineal segmentation. Matrilocal extended families undergo similar division and keep ties again through lineages Process continues indefinitely and may also form clans over the long term. Main difference is the conflict in the role of the brother and that of the husband The two male authority figures compete for power within the matrilineage, and often the brother wins out Usually, therefore segmentation involves two persons; the brother who wields authority and the sister who provides the matrilineal affiliation.

Matrilineal segmentation is somewhat similar to patrilineal segmentation.

Matrilocal extended families undergo similar division and keep ties again through lineages

Process continues indefinitely and may also form clans over the long term.

Main difference is the conflict in the role of the brother and that of the husband

The two male authority figures compete for power within the matrilineage, and often the brother wins out

Usually, therefore segmentation involves two persons; the brother who wields authority and the sister who provides the matrilineal affiliation.

Nonunilineal or Ambilineal Descent Groups Ambilineal descent groups develop from ambilocal extended families--whose descent is bilateral Each couple chooses residence based on economic advantage, as we saw among couples in the Gilberts Both husband and wife belong to separate kaingas The kainga is a landholding unit 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

Ambilineal descent groups develop from ambilocal extended families--whose descent is bilateral

Each couple chooses residence based on economic advantage, as we saw among couples in the Gilberts

Both husband and wife belong to separate kaingas

The kainga is a landholding unit

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

Ambilocal Descent Group: Conditions 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 In fact, Scottish clans are actually ambilineal groups. There, arable land is restricted in the highlands of Scotland

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

In fact, Scottish clans are actually ambilineal groups. There, arable land is restricted in the highlands of Scotland

Marriage as Alliance Another function of marriage is alliance formation between lineages, clans, tribes, or even nations. In European history, peace between nations was sealed by monarchial marriage. Yanomamo: highest alliance is sealed by marriage outside the village. Women marry their cross-cousins, affording her some kind of protection against an abusive husband. She has no such protection if she marries outside; marriage outside the village must reflect high degree of trust. The main ways to secure alliance are bridewealth and exchange marriage

Another function of marriage is alliance formation between lineages, clans, tribes, or even nations.

In European history, peace between nations was sealed by monarchial marriage.

Yanomamo: highest alliance is sealed by marriage outside the village.

Women marry their cross-cousins, affording her some kind of protection against an abusive husband.

She has no such protection if she marries outside; marriage outside the village must reflect high degree of trust.

The main ways to secure alliance are bridewealth and exchange marriage

Bridewealth More than a marriage transaction Loss of daughter: loss of reproductivity Loss must be compensated. Bridewealth Entails payment by groom’s kin to wife’s kin Ensures that wife’s kin attracts wives for its sons Strengthens bond of kin through network of obligations

More than a marriage transaction

Loss of daughter: loss of reproductivity

Loss must be compensated.

Bridewealth

Entails payment by groom’s kin to wife’s kin

Ensures that wife’s kin attracts wives for its sons

Strengthens bond of kin through network of obligations

Bride Labor and Dowry Theme and variation: son proves his worth Ensures that wife will be looked after Dowry (p. 252) Transfer of wealth from wife’s family to husband Condition: he looks after wife’s welfare even after his own death An assurance that woman’s status is on par with husband’s

Theme and variation: son proves his worth

Ensures that wife will be looked after

Dowry (p. 252)

Transfer of wealth from wife’s family to husband

Condition: he looks after wife’s welfare even after his own death

An assurance that woman’s status is on par with husband’s

Exchange Theory: Mauss’s Analysis of the Gift Exchange Creates and maintains ties between two groups Three obligations To give: to form ties To receive To cement ties Failure: creates hostilities To repay Failure makes the recipient a beggar Results in his/her inferior status

Exchange Creates and maintains ties between two groups

Three obligations

To give: to form ties

To receive

To cement ties

Failure: creates hostilities

To repay

Failure makes the recipient a beggar

Results in his/her inferior status

Parallel and Cross-Cousin Marriage Parallel cousin marriage Father’s brother’s child or Mother’s sister’s child Cross-cousin marriage Sister’s brother’s child Mother’s brother’s child

Parallel cousin marriage

Father’s brother’s child or

Mother’s sister’s child

Cross-cousin marriage

Sister’s brother’s child

Mother’s brother’s child

Patrilateral Parallel Cousin Marriage Father’s brother’s children belong to same patrilineal descent unit Practiced among Arab nomadic peoples Example: Rwala Bedouin Serves to preserve wealth within extended family or lineage Disadvantage: limitation on alliance/network

Father’s brother’s children belong to same patrilineal descent unit

Practiced among Arab nomadic peoples

Example: Rwala Bedouin

Serves to preserve wealth within extended family or lineage

Disadvantage: limitation on alliance/network

Cross-Cousin Marriage Partner is always outside one’s own lineage or clan Illustration Mother’s brother’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of the brother Father’s sister’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of sister’s husband Conclusion: cross-cousins always belong to different lineages or clans

Partner is always outside one’s own lineage or clan

Illustration

Mother’s brother’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of the brother

Father’s sister’s daughter: belongs to lineage or clan of sister’s husband

Conclusion: cross-cousins always belong to different lineages or clans

Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage Definition: marriage of man to his mother’s brother’s daughter Man is woman’s father’s sister’s son Reference point is always male What happens when everyone practices matrilateral cross-cousin marriage There are at least 3 groups They marry in a circle Diagram illustrates why

Definition: marriage of man to his mother’s brother’s daughter

Man is woman’s father’s sister’s son

Reference point is always male

What happens when everyone practices matrilateral cross-cousin marriage

There are at least 3 groups

They marry in a circle

Diagram illustrates why

Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage: Alliance Patterns Effects on social status Group B takes wife from Group A Group B can never return favor with wife from own group Why: man from Group A would marry father’s sister’s daughter “ Violates” matrilateral cross-cousin rule Result: B is “beggar” to A: likewise C to B Has effect in stratified states, as will be seen

Effects on social status

Group B takes wife from Group A

Group B can never return favor with wife from own group

Why: man from Group A would marry father’s sister’s daughter

“ Violates” matrilateral cross-cousin rule

Result: B is “beggar” to A: likewise C to B

Has effect in stratified states, as will be seen

Patrilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage Woman is man’s father’s sister’s daughter But man is woman’s mother’s brother’s son Again, male is reference point Pattern is somewhat more complicated and rarer in occurrence Structural implications will be bypassed

Woman is man’s father’s sister’s daughter

But man is woman’s mother’s brother’s son

Again, male is reference point

Pattern is somewhat more complicated

and rarer in occurrence

Structural implications will be bypassed

Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage Two definitions Man marries either Mother’s brother’s daughter or Father’s sister’s daughter OR He marries both Mother’s brother’s daughter or Father’s sister’s daughter This diagram shows how

Two definitions

Man marries either

Mother’s brother’s daughter or

Father’s sister’s daughter OR

He marries both

Mother’s brother’s daughter or

Father’s sister’s daughter

This diagram shows how

Alliance Patterns: Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage Results If you have only two lineages And everyone does it You have only one choice: cross cousin An ideal type Only one male and only one female Applied to Yanomamo, every marriage Involves a cross-cousin tie (p 146. 148) Strong because it involves future spouses

Results

If you have only two lineages

And everyone does it

You have only one choice: cross cousin

An ideal type

Only one male and only one female

Applied to Yanomamo, every marriage

Involves a cross-cousin tie (p 146. 148)

Strong because it involves future spouses

Bilateral Cross-Cousin Marriage: Results Fissioning village, Villages always divide in pairs Two kinds of people: your kin and your future spouse’s kin Kin terms Iroquois cousin terminology: Parallel cousins: same as brother and sister Cross-cousin: Suaboya: female cross cousin and wife Hearoya: male cross-cousin and husband

Fissioning village,

Villages always divide in pairs

Two kinds of people: your kin and your future spouse’s kin

Kin terms

Iroquois cousin terminology:

Parallel cousins: same as brother and sister

Cross-cousin:

Suaboya: female cross cousin and wife

Hearoya: male cross-cousin and husband

Importance of Kin Terms: Bilateral Reflect how cousins are to behave toward each other Hawaiian: all cousins merge siblings with cousins Bilateral: marriage outside kin Eskimo: our own: immediate siblings separated from cousins Often found with nuclear families

Reflect how cousins are to behave toward each other

Hawaiian: all cousins merge siblings with cousins

Bilateral: marriage outside kin

Eskimo: our own: immediate siblings separated from cousins

Often found with nuclear families

Importance of Kin Terms: Unilineal Iroquois: Parallel cousins merged with siblings Separated from cross cousins Yanomamo: give indication of marriageable partners Guinea: Cross-cousins separated from immediate siblings and parallel cousins, Matrilateral and patrilateral cousins also separated Suggests matrilateral or patrilateral cross-cousin marriage is preferred

Iroquois: Parallel cousins merged with siblings

Separated from cross cousins

Yanomamo: give indication of marriageable partners

Guinea: Cross-cousins separated from immediate siblings and parallel cousins,

Matrilateral and patrilateral cousins also separated

Suggests matrilateral or patrilateral cross-cousin marriage is preferred

Kinship Terminology Much more could be said Omaha and Crow reflect Patrilineal and matrilineal relations, respectively Main point: terms are “markers” of basic relationships

Much more could be said

Omaha and Crow reflect

Patrilineal and matrilineal relations, respectively

Main point: terms are “markers” of basic relationships

Conclusion: Value of Marriage and Kinship Involves how gender relations are managed Sexual relations Division of labor Marriage and childbirth Involves relations outside immediate realm of kin Economic rights and obligations (next) Social control through other institutions

Involves how gender relations are managed

Sexual relations

Division of labor

Marriage and childbirth

Involves relations outside immediate realm of kin

Economic rights and obligations (next)

Social control through other institutions

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