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ANTH 114, Kinship Lesson Notes

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ANTH 114, Kinship Lesson Notes ANTH 114

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In-depth detailed notes of the kinship lesson.
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Cortney Rinker
Class Notes
Anthropology, gmu, ANTH 114, kinship, notes
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by omg7797 on Saturday February 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 114 at George Mason University taught by Cortney Rinker in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Cultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at George Mason University.

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Date Created: 02/20/16
Why Study Kinship? Kinship tells us about the social organization of a society. According to Guest, kinship is a “system of meaning and power that cultures create to determine who is related to who and to define their mutual expectations, rights, and responsibilities.” Kinships are also relationships that are culturally recognized by the societies in which they are found. It recognizes that everyone has a relation to someone, but uses different classifications. These classifications can be put into two categories: 1. Family of orientation: family that you choose a. These are known as affinal kin 2. Family of procreation: family of birth/blood a. These are known as consanguine kin When it comes to kinship charts, the chart is centered around Ego, which can be male or female, that is usually indicated by a darkened or colored-in symbol. Ego is known as the central focus of a kinship chart. This lesson covers:  Lineage and Living Arrangements  Kinship Systems  What makes a family?  And analyses of the Masai, Nuer, and Trobriand societies. Measuring Lineage and Living Arrangements A lineage is how you trace your family throughout the generations. We often do this through our given (last) names. For an example, in the United States, we have acquired a patrilineal culture. Patrilineal vs Matrilineal Descent In a patrilineal culture, Ego is claimed by the father’s bloodline, which includes his siblings. While engaged in a patrilineal bloodline, only the males will keep the last name (or the identity) and pass on the family lineage. Females can be included, but they will still trace through the father, and their children will have a different lineage. In a matrilineal culture, Ego is claimed by the bloodline of the mother, including all of her siblings. The females will keep the identity and pass on the family lineage. Again, males are included, but if they have kids, then those children will trace through the lineage of their mother. Unilineal vs Bilateral A Unilineal descent system is the basis of kinship systems in 60% of the world’s cultures. Most unilineal cultures consist of pastoralist, horticulturalists, and intensive agriculturalists. There are advantages to a unilineal system: there are no overlapping descent groups; the groups penetrate each other over time despite changes in membership; and it provides clear relationships for everyone to identify. In a Bilateral lineage, Ego is claimed as a member of both the mother’s and the father’s lineage, without exclusions. This system is completely inclusive and provides total social recognition amongst the relations. The Concept of the Generation Gap With generation gaps, there is a difference as to not only when you’re born, but what tier you appear in on a family tree. Generation gaps, in this sense, helps you understand the concepts of “first cousins”, “second” cousins, etc. Let’s look at some important details you’ll need for the test: The first cousin once-removed is the child of Ego’s cousin. The “once removed” part comes from the cousin being in a different generation than Ego. To think of how this works, Ego would call the mother’s father the grandfather, but Ego’s first cousin once-removed would call that same person great-grandfather due to the generational difference. A first cousin once-removed is not the same as a second cousin. A second cousin would only count if the parents of both people are cousins. This would make the two people (i.e. Ego and Person X) second cousins; they’re still cousins, but their parents are each other’s cousins. Also, your second cousin is within the same generation as you are. Application The Masai and the Trobriand cultures have been mentioned before in the class. They were also typed in the notes for the week of Feb 11 .th The Masai are a patriarchal, pastoralist society that practices patrilineal descent. Another interesting fact is that they practice polygyny, meaning that they have multiple wives. (Do not confuse this with polygamy, which is the generalization of multiple spouses, or polygandy, which is multiple husbands.) The Trobriand Islands consisted of a matrilineal horticulturalist society that was organized into chiefdoms. They have exogamous marriages, meaning that they marry outside the family lineage. They also focus on the importance of the Sagali, which acts as gifts for the public mourning of the deceased. In the Sagali, they practice a method called Kopoi that involves how the dead are cared for prior to being buried. Interestingly enough, the Trobriand women were known to nurture infants until they turned a year old. Women would often provide nurturing to help the growth and development of the child while the men would nurture with a focus on enhancing the baby’s beauty (noted as kuwa.) Living Arrangements Once a marriage or partnership of some kind is formed, the couple typically debate on where it is they wish to live. Three terms are needed to be known: 1. Patrilocal- where the couple lives near or with the family of the husband 2. Matrilocal- where the couple lives near or with the family of the wife 3. Neolocal- where the couple lives on their own in a different location and creates their own style of living. Studying the Kinship Systems In this unit, there is a lot to learn. Lewis Henry Morgan created 6 general systemic models of kinship. Though you only need to know 3, which are illustrated in the handout on Blackboard. The other three only need to be named: Sudanese, Omaha, and Crow. Not all kinship relations will react the same, because these models are just the basics. The Eskimo System This system was most commonly found in the Forager (hunter-gatherer) societies in North America. It consisted of a nuclear family, which was considered the most important. The nuclear family would be father, mother, brother, and sister, aside from Ego. The rest of the members had the same categories: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, and grandmothers. For any questions involving this, you will need to identify the nuclear family. The Iroquois System Developed out of the Iroquois tribes in the Northeast United States, it has been discovered elsewhere like India, Sri Lanka, and Sub-Saharan Africa. This system is the most complicated of the three we have to know, consisting of cross cousins and parallel cousins. Parallel Cousins are the children who come from the same-sex sibling of the parent. The same-sex siblings are given the same titles as the Mother and Father. Parallel cousins are also called brother and sister, like the nuclear family. Cross Cousins are the children who come from the opposite-sex sibling of the parent. The opposite-sex siblings are called Aunt and Uncle. Cross cousins are then called “cousin.” The Hawaiian System The Hawaiian system was found in Polynesia and consists of the least number of labels, making it the simplest of the three systems in our word bank. The terms in this system simply consist of Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Grandmother, and Grandfather. What Makes a Family? What does “family,” mean? Well, that’s hard to say considering that family can mean different things to different people. The traditional definition of the familial unit in American culture is typically considered the nuclear family, or those who are directly related to Ego by blood means. This belief is typically supported by saying the phrase, “Blood is thicker than water,” when really the whole statement is: The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. Americans typically believe that your family matters most when it comes to relationships. But, even with that said, there is too much variability in “family” in order for the word to have a universal definition. Some of the variations include:  Kinship- blood, descent, and/or marriage  Economic- production, consumption, and exchange  Ritual- symbolic relationship that isn’t required to be blood related  Residential- those who live in the household. People often don’t understand that family is not separate from social, political, and historical contexts, meaning that it is not independent of other variables. It is adaptive to its global and social contexts, which are always changing. Kinship in Infertility Clinics & Reproductive Technologies Infertility clinics are where many surrogacy operations occur. There are two different kinds of surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is when the woman who carries the child is biologically related to the child. While gestational surrogacy is where the holder of the baby is not related in any way. When inside an infertility clinic, there are biological definitions of relatedness but social definitions of parenthood. This concept argues against a fixed notion of kinship based on “naturalness” and blood. The egg, gestation, and the biological mother can be separate. With Reproductive technology, family and kinship are redefined because of infertility and other factors. The fertility industry has been estimated at about 2 billion dollars as of now, and sperm donor births in the United States estimates to be roughly 30 thousand each year. The Adoption Concept Adoption is when adults legalize their parental relationships to non-biological children. This process also challenges the idea that family is only those who are related to you. Christine Ward Gailey is an anthropologist who focused on single mother adopters. In her experiment, she discovered it was socially considered as a violation of natural motherhood, and therefore wasn’t constituted as legitimate. Due to this stigma, single mothers would draw support from natal and acquired kin networks to create kinship with the adopted child. With adoption, family formation is proven to be “work”—kin ties aren’t automatic, and are not always “natural.” Speaking of families being work, Ellen Lewin is an anthropologist from the University of Iowa. She conducted research on homosexual adopters. In America, the word, “family,” often correlates to shorthand for a heterosexual, binary unit; some gay activists are opposed to this belief. In response to this stigma, lesbian women began adopting more and more in the 1980’s, creating what was termed a gayby boom. Her research discussed how adoption professionals were critical of gay and lesbian parents due to the heterosexual ideal behind the meaning of the word family. Sometimes you cannot simply drift into parenthood or stumble into it by chance. You have to work. –Ellen Lewin Family as a Foundation Motherhood and fatherhood are both socially constructed and biologically associated terms at the same time. Most of our talk about families is closed by unexplored notions of what families ‘really’ look like. (Collier, Rosaldo, and Yanagisako) Families don’t always look alike, and formation is a process. This process is what creates the kinship networks that we rely on. The Nuer Kinship and Marriages The Nuer people are a patrilineal society who have divided parenting roles. When it comes to the Nuer, a genitor is the one that helps create the baby; while a pater is the socially recognized father-figure for the child. Ghost Marriage In a ghost marriage, a Nuer man dies without ever being married. In the Nuer culture, a wife is gotten by exchanging cattle with her family for her. The “pro- husband” is the man who is the genitor, and the dead man who was supposed to be wed to the wife would be the pater. Even though the Pater is dead, he would still be considered the father of the child by social construct. With a ghost marriage, the “pro-husband” is simply a fill-in to ensure that the wife gets pregnant and begets children. Leviratic Marriage In a leviratic marriage, a married Nuer man becomes deceased. After the married man dies, the wife would live with the kinsman of the dead husband (typically the brother, who becomes the pro-husband). Again, any children who are begotten thanks to the pro-husband would still be considered, under social construct, as children of the deceased partner. The Concubine Conundrum In concubinage, a married woman would be impregnated by her lover. However, despite the child sharing DNA with the lover, it would be her husband who is the recognized father. Are you starting to see a trend here? In unmarried concubinage, an unmarried woman becomes pregnant with her lover and bears a child. But, whoever exchanges cattle is the socially recognized father of the child. Woman-woman Marriage In the Nuer culture, both men and women own cattle. However, they tend to be a patriarchal system where the man takes all ownership. There is a loophole: a female husband. A female husband is someone who is unable to have children and is usually beyond childbearing years. A female husband is simply a female who acts like a male husband (so long as she fits the criteria), who finds a wife and exchanges cattle. Woman-woman marriages often relate to concubine situations, but the child’s lineage will be of the female husband.


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