Readings: Miller Ch. 6 Reader, #16, Family and Kinship in Village India
Kinship – Introduction.
Kinship is the most basic principle of organizing individuals into social groups, roles, and categories. Some form of organization based on parentage and marriage is present in every human society. In modern industrial communities family structures have been weakened by the dominance of the market economy and the provision of state organized social services. However, the nuclear family household is still the fundamental institution responsible for rearing children and organizing consumption. In nonindustrial contexts, kinship units normally have a much wider array of functions. They often serve as basic units of production, political representation and even as religious bodies for the worship of spiritual beings, who are themselves considered members of the kingroup.
Matrilineal kinship systems are different from those with which we are more familiar, In this discussion, use the Minangkabau proverb, “Crossing wood in the hearth makes the fire glow,” to explore the meaning of matrilineality among this group. Describe one example of how this equality is manifest with the Minangkabau, speculate on what it might mean to live in a gender egalitarian society, or in a polygynous or polyandrous marriage. Do we have any proverbs with the same idea?