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Marriage An anthropological perspective. Universality All societies recognize families and marriages The details of what this looks like varies from culture.

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Presentation on theme: "Marriage An anthropological perspective. Universality All societies recognize families and marriages The details of what this looks like varies from culture."— Presentation transcript:

1 Marriage An anthropological perspective

2 Universality All societies recognize families and marriages The details of what this looks like varies from culture to culture. In Indonesia, people typically ask, “Are you married, or not yet?”

3 Family A social unit characterized by the following –economic cooperation –the management of reproduction and child rearing –common residence. –socially approved sexual relations –Recognition of rights and responsibilities

4 Traditional View of Marriage Marriage is a union between a man and woman such that the children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both partners. Royal Anthropological Institute, 1951.

5 Non-ethnocentric view A relationship between one or more men (male or female) and one or more women (female or male) who are recognized by society as having a continuing claim to the right of sexual access to one another. –This recognizes that gender is culturally defined –Not all married couple live together –Multiple spouses are accepted in many societies –In no society do all marriages endure until death

6 Functions Stable relationships to regulate sexual mating and reproduction Regulates sexual division of labor. Provides socially sanctioned rules for economic rights and obligations Provides relationships to provide for the material, educational, and emotional needs of children

7 Mate Selection- Don’t Marry Incest: prohibitions relating to mating with relatives is universal but the precise rules vary. Many rules of incest apply to the choice of spouse for marriage –Iranian loss of virginity with young boys by male relatives –No nuclear family. However, brothers and sisters of Egyptian, Inca and Hawaiin royalty frequently married –First cousin? Cross cousin? Parallel cousin? 24 states forbid first cousin marriage Yanomami consider cross cousins proper, but not parallel cousins –Why? Natural aversion? Found to be found in Jewish Kibbutz. Yet 10-15% of people experience incest Prevent inbreeding? Mating with first cousins doesn’t significantly increase the risk of birth defects Family disruption? Too much competition Expanding social alliances? Allows families to create wider social ties

8 Mate selection- Who to Marry Exogamy: Marriage outside of a group Endogamy: Marriage within a group –Indian caste –Race, class, ethnicity, religion Arranged marriages –Japanese Omiai or India Cross cousin: mother’s brother’s children or father’s sister’s children- solidifies family ties Parallel cousin: found in Middle East and North Africa as way to prevent fragmentation of family property. Levirate (marry brother or close male relative of dead husband)- looks after wife in patrilineal society and maintains connections between the family Sororate- other way around. In a matrilineal and matrilocal society, a husband can stay with the family. It also allows the bride’s family to keep the bridewealth.

9 Arranged Marriage In 1996, a recent Iraqi refugee living in Nebraska arranged a double marriage for his two daughters. It was an occasion for a big party. The problem was that his daughters were 13 and 14 and the men were 28 and 34. Marriage in traditional Iraqi society is viewed a union between two large families. Moreover, by marrying young, a woman is protected from the shame of being dishonored by premarital sex Should American law take into account cultural considerations?

10 Number of Spouses Monogamy- one spouse at a time –Lifelong partnerships are circumvented by discreet extramarital affairs or serial monogamy Polygany –7/10 world cultures permit or prefer –In 2005, it is estimated that 30,000 people practice polygany –Where women are seen as economic assets, like in Africa, rates are high, while the converse is true In the Solomon Islands, women farm and raise pigs –Ratio is possible if males killed in war, male infanticide, male capture, or if older men marry younger women Utah polygamist Tom Green with his family of five wives and some of his 29 children

11 Polyandry Practice of one woman marrying more than one man –Found in 1% of the world- Nepal, Tibet, India –Fraternal or non-fraternal –Advantages: Shortage of women, conserve economic resources, prevent primogeniture –Used when shortage of women or for the preservation of family resources

12 Polyandry YUSHU COUNTY, CHINA - JULY 18: (L-R) La Wen, Cai Zhuo, Gama Sangding and their child Gelai Bajiu pose for a photo in their house located at the downtown area on July 18, 2007 in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, northwest China. The 40-year-old Tibetan woman Cai Zhuo has two husbands who are brothers, 44-year-old La Wen and 41-year-old Gama Sangding.

13 Economic considerations Bridewealth: –Compensation given by family of groom to the family of the bride-- 46% –Compensates the bride’s group for the loss of companionship and labor Bride service –Providing of labor rather than goods Dowry –Compensation from bride to groom. It is meant to compensate the husbands for the added responsibility of taking care of a woman –Found in India, where sati and dowry murders exist Woman exchange Reciprocal exchange: 6%

14 Modern Thai Bride Wealth Modern Bride Wealth in Thailand: Following the initial greetings to her family we presented the bride wealth to Pook’s mom. The bride wealth consisted of 100,000 Baht in cash (approximately $2500 USD) and two solid gold necklaces. Pook’s mom gave the necklaces back to us and we put them on and wore them for the remainder of the ceremony. (While the bride wealth price was 100,000 Baht, Pook's mom did what many Thai parents do these days and she gave back most of it, keeping only 30,000 Baht.)

15 Nuer Bride Wealth Primary Family of the Bride (20) father of the bride 8 head: 3 cows and their 3 calves 2 oxen brother of another mother 2 cows brother of the same mother 7 head: 2 oxen 3 cows 1 cow and its 1 calf mother 1 cow and its 1 calf 1 heifer Siblings of bride’s mother- 10 Siblings of bride’s father- 10

16 Divorce Rules and availability of divorce vary around world In places where love marriages are valued, divorce rates are generally higher.

17 Patterns of residence Patrilocal: with or near husband’s father (46%) Matrilocal: With or near relatives of wife (13%) Avunculocal: With or near husband’s mother’s brother (4%) Ambilocal: choice of wife or husband’s relatives (9%) Neolocal: independent residence (5%)

18 Who lives in the family Nuclear: based on marital ties Extended: based on blood ties among 3 or more generations Bush Extended family

19 Same Sex Marriage On 4/7/09, the Vermont legislature passed a law which overrode Governor Douglas’ veto permitting same sex marriage

20 Readings Read intro from Cultural Anthropology –What is a working definition of marriage? –What are the functions of marriage? Read excerpts on same sex marriages from Anthropology by Haviland and Anthropology by Kottack. –According to Haviland, what are the main reasons people cite for opposing gay marriage? What is Haviland’s response to these concerns? Do you agree? –According to Kottack, how would same sex marriage accomplish the 6 goals of marriage? Do you agree?

21 Research Read Governor Douglas reasons for vetoing the same sex marriage bill along with congressman who opposed the bill PDF 146.PDF Read the arguments of those who supported it, such as congressmen and the Freedom to Marry task group WS03/ WS03/ /1095/news03http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/ /NE WS03/ WS03/ /1095/news03 Summarize the main arguments on both sides Prepare a 2-3 minute radio editorial in which you use anthropological concepts to support or oppose the same sex marriage bill.


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