Marriage An anthropological perspective 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?” 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 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. 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 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 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 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. 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? 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 Utah polygamist Tom Green with his capture, or if older men marry family of five wives and some of his 29 younger women children 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 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. 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% 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.) 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 Divorce • Rules and availability of divorce vary around world • In places where love marriages are valued, divorce rates are generally higher. 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%) Who lives in the family • Nuclear: based on marital ties • Extended: based on blood ties among 3 or more generations Bush Extended family Same Sex Marriage On 4/7/09, the Vermont legislature passed a law which overrode Governor Douglas’ veto permitting same sex marriage 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? Research • Read Governor Douglas reasons for vetoing the same sex marriage bill along with congressman who opposed the bill. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/assets/pdf/BT13226 146.PDF • Read the arguments of those who supported it, such as congressmen and the Freedom to Marry task group • http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090407/NE WS03/90407016 http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090407/NE WS03/90407009/1095/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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