Cultural Anthropology 206 March 18th Viewing and Reading Only Freezing Cultures – Freezing Life

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Cultural Anthropology 206

March 18th ***Viewing and Reading Only
Freezing Cultures – Freezing Life
The last couple of days we have discussed culture change and villages in Nepal. Now we will look at what happens when the world wants something preserved and local inhabitants just want to live a reasonable life.

Mali is a large country in West Africa. Follow this link to find a map locating Mali:
This link takes you to a map showing the location of the cities of Timbuktu and Djenné in Mali:
And here we see a video clip (7 min.) about early Mali civilization:

Follow this link to view an unnarrated video clip (2 min.) showing Timbuktu and its residents:
Timbuktu is a World Heritage Site. View the video clip (6 min.), Timbuktu Belongs to the Whole World:

The first settlement of Djenné is thought to have been between 250 B.C. and 800 A.D. Over time Djenné became a market center and an important link in trans-Saharan gold trade. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was one of the centers for the propagation of Islam. Its traditional houses, of which nearly 2,000 have survived, are built on hillocks as protection from the seasonal floods.
This link provides you with a map showing limitations in building to expand the area of the city of Mali.

History of Djenné

Djenné, the oldest known city in sub-Saharan Africa, is situated on the flood lands of the Niger and Bani rivers, 354 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of Timbuktu. It has an ethnically diverse population famous for its mud brick architecture. The city was a centre of trade and learning, and has been conquered a number of times since its founding.

The city was founded by merchants around 800 AD and flourished as a meeting place for traders from the deserts of Sudan and the tropical forests of Guinea. It was captured by the Songhai emperor Sonni 'Ali in 1468. The city developed into Mali's most important trading center during the 16th century because of its direct connection with Timbuktu by a river.  

In 1591, Morocco conquered the city after destroying Songhai's hold in the region. Moroccan kings controlled Djenné until 1780 and during these years, its markets further expanded featuring products from throughout the vast regions of North and Central Africa. In 1861, the city was conquered by the Tukulor emperor al-Hajj 'Umar and was then occupied by the French in 1893. Thereafter, its commercial functions were taken over by the town of Mopti, which is situated at the confluence of the Niger and Bani rivers.

Besides being known for its commercial importance, Djenné was also known as a center of Islamic learning and pilgrimage. The city attracted students and pilgrims from all over West Africa. Today, Djenné is an agricultural trade center with several beautiful examples of Muslim architecture. The inhabitants of Djenné mostly speak a Songhay variety termed Djenné Chiini.  

Today Djenné boasts of two tourist attractions: The Great Mosque and the weekly market, taking place every Monday. The Great Mosque was built in 1907 with rectangular sun-dried mud bricks that are held together by mud mortar and plastered over with mud. This earthen architecture, which is found throughout Mali, can last for centuries if regularly maintained.

The large market square brings together different ethnic groups: Bambara (farmers), Peul and Fulbe (cattle breeders), Bozo (fishermen and masons), Bella (firewood traders) to trade. Goods traded are cattle, meat, fish, vegetables, rice, household goods, and drugs among others. There is also Le campement, the only one place tourists can stay. It is located about 400 meters from the mosque.

This link takes you to a slide show (3 min. with French captions) showing the city and people of Djenné:
Mali and World Heritage Site Preservation
Because of its unique architecture, Djenné was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Whether Djenné modernizes or not is an important issue for its residents. Because it is a World Heritage Site, being able to make repairs to their homes is a contentious issue.

Djenné, Mali is the less famous but better preserved sister city to Timbuktu. Both reached their zenith of wealth and power in the 16th century by sitting at the crossroads of Sahara trade routes.

In Djenné, the striking Great Mosque put the town on the map. Djenné was a gateway that helped spread Islam regionally. When the king converted in the 13th century, he leveled his palace and built a mosque. Mali’s French colonizers eventually oversaw its reconstruction in 1907. It is the largest mud- brick structure in the world, so unique that it looks as if it might have landed from another planet, an imposing sand castle looming over the main square.

Djenné is an official World Heritage site. Guidelines established by UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, which compiles the heritage list, demand that any reconstruction not substantially alter the original. 

In a cultural clash echoed at World Heritage sites around the world, residents complain of being frozen in time like pieces in a museum, their lives proscribed so visitors can gawk. Abba Maiga's 150-year-old mud-brick house is so culturally precious he is not allowed to update it — no tile floors, no screen doors, no shower. "Who wants to live in a house with a mud floor?" said Mr. Maiga.

Poverty prevents many from fixing their houses. Architects who have worked on various restoration projects said the townsfolk are imbued with a unique pride. Many would rather see their ancestral home fall than admit they lack the means to restore it, said Cheich Abdel Kader, a Malian architect who also helped direct the mosque restoration. Others object that outsiders set the rules.

A project to pipe water into the city failed to include drainage, so raw sewage fouls the unpaved streets. Trash dumps mar the river embankments. Garbage has even made its way into the bricks, with discarded items like black plastic bags jutting from house walls. A faint rotting odor hangs in the background.

Residents here appear markedly more sullen about tourism than in many other Malian cities. They often glower rather than smile, and they tend to either ask for money or stomp off when cameras are pointed in their direction.

Trash and sewage alone is not cause to be kicked off the World Heritage list, until they start affecting the architecture. The problem, said N’Diaye Bah, Mali’s tourism minister, is modernizing the town without wrecking its ambiance. "If you destroy the heritage which people come to see, if you destroy 2,000 years of history, then the town loses its soul," he said.
The Great Mosque in Djenne is an amazing looking building.

Follow this link to view a New York Times video clip (4 min.) on The Great Mosque of Djenné and the issue of preservation.

March 15th ***Viewing, Reading & Questions

Art: Twana Basketry Designs (continued)
The other day I described some of the designs found on Twana baskets. Follow this link to find sketches of five designs, including the grebe (or helldiver).
This link takes you to a photograph of a Twana basket featuring the horse design at the rim and salmon gills as the main design:

Cultural Change
This link takes you to a video clip (6 min.) on cultural change by Dr. Carol Laman (Houston CC).

Question One: Laman claims that there is no such thing as a point in time when

there is a clear division between tradition culture and changed culture. Can you think of instances when her claim might be wrong?

Question Two: Laman also says that there is no such thing as a first group or people to live in a particular place. Can you think of instances where this claim might be wrong?

Global Change: Nepal
Dr. Alan Macfarlane (Cambridge University) has been coming to Gurung village in Nepal annually for 30 years to study cultural change. Follow this link to view a video clip (12 min.) in which he states that the village is as it was 1,000 years ago because there is no way to get there by road.
This link takes you to a photo of Gurung, showing what Macfarlane means about it being situated on a hillside and having no streets.

Question Three: In what ways might the annual visits of Macfarlane over 30 years

have changed life in the village?

Thursday March 10th ***Reading and Assignment

Divination (cont’d)

Nggàm is a type of divination that originated among the Mambila people of Cameroon and Niger, in which the actions of spiders or crabs are interpreted by the diviner.

Follow this link to view a diviner in Rhumsiki, Cameroon.
He tells the future by interpreting the changes in position of various objects as caused by a fresh-water crab.
This link will take you to a web page discussing the use of spiders in this type of divination:

Religious Change
These four links take you to the pages of my lecture on the Washo (also spelled Washoe), religious change and cult or revitalization movements.
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

This link will take you to a map of traditional Washo Territory.

And this link leads to an article on efforts to protect a Washo sacred site.

Question One: Why do you think the Washo in the 1890’s were lukewarm to join religious cults as opposed to other tribes mentioned?

Question Two: Why would the Washo have accepted the religious use of peyote?

Tuesday March 9 ***Reading and Assignment

Religion – Definition, Function and Key Concepts
Follow this link to view a definition of religion and examples of its functions.
Follow this link to view key concepts related to religion.

Voodoo originated in what is now the African country of Benin. Here is a link to view a clip (6 min.) on its birth:

Follow this link and read a Seattle Times article about how “Voodoo beliefs [are] growing” in New Orleans: Part One Part Two

Follow this link to learn about voodoo in Haiti (3 min following an ad):
And what is happening to religious specialists after the earthquake and the cholera outbreak.
Origin Stories
Religion often provides the stories of how the earth was created and/or how people were created.
This link takes you to Three Related Origin Stories.
Here is version D:
Coyote had been carefully cutting strips from cured rabbit pelts and he had now turned to twisting these long strips into thick fur threads. They would make a fine woven blanket for the coldest of winter's nights. But suddenly, a woman's face popped inside his cave and looked around. Both were startled, and she quickly pulled away and went on. Coyote was taken with her right away so he jumped out of his cave, leaving his rabbit skins behind, and followed along. Pretty soon, he was scrambling up a rocky hillside and he was really impressed by her rapid progress. But she was finally stopped by a large lake, and Coyote caught up, asking her loudly if he could come along where she was going. . .

". . . so after Coyote had won the woman's heart with several ducks that he had freshly hunted, the woman accepted Coyote's proposals and took him as her husband. She was a powerful and mysterious woman, who did not make love easily, but Coyote was very cautious, even uncanny. And the woman became pregnant. So, as it turned out, one fine spring day, the woman and Coyote were gathering near a lowland stream and Coyote was playing on some smooth rocks that made a slide into the waterway. The woman went into pains of childbirth and, before Coyote knew it, she was delivering more children than he could imagine! And the children were getting up and running off toward other parts of the country. Coyote hollered that he'd be there to take charge of the children; but by the time he got to where she was only the 'scrubby-looking ones' were left. But that was all right. These were our people; and whatever they lacked in beauty they made up for, abundantly, in skill and intelligence and bravery."
Question One: What purpose does the toothed vagina have in Story C?

March 3 On-Line ***Reading Only
Eskimo Justice (continued)


The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of four countries: Canada (Northwest Territories, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, Nunatukavut), Denmark (Greenland), Russia (Siberia) and the United States (Alaska).

Among the Inuit, there was a set way of doing things that had to be followed:

  • maligait refers to what has to be followed

  • piqujait refers to what has to be done

  • tirigusuusiit refers to what has to be avoided

If an individual's actions went against the tirigusuusiit, maligait or piqujait, the angakkuq (shaman) might have to intervene, lest the consequences be dire to the individual or the community.

All of this, or course, was unwritten.

We are told today that Inuit never had laws or "maligait". Why? They say because they are not written on paper. When I think of paper, I think you can tear it up, and the laws are gone. The laws of the Inuit are not on paper.

—Mariano Aupilaarjuk, Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Perspectives on Traditional Law

Justice within Inuit culture was moderated by the form of governance that gave significant power to the elders. As in most cultures around the world, justice could be harsh and often included capital punishment for serious crimes against the community or the individual. During raids against other peoples, the Inuit, like their non-Inuit neighbors, tended to be merciless.
Among Arctic Inuit groups, there was an unspoken tradition to avenge the death of a family member, which led to endless murder, especially among the Copper Inuit. With no police, courts, or jails, the individual Copper Inuit depended on one's own definition of justice. Some of the most respected leaders in the community were murderers. Social crimes such as dishonesty, laziness, stinginess, and bossiness received more disapproval and condemnation than murder. Overall, in small Inuit communities, communal disapproval was especially isolating and humiliating.
Follow the link to read more on the Inuit/Eskimo justice system.

Politics and Leadership and Survival
Follow the following two links to read my lecture notes about the Tunica and Biloxi Indians of the US Southeast.
Tunica-Biloxi 1 Tunica-Biloxi 2

Hopi and Tewa
Follow this link to view a map locating the First Mesa:

First Mesa is the home of historic Walpi Village, continuously inhabited for more than 1100 years.  Walpi stands above the valley at 300 feet, surrounded by awesome vistas of the sky and distant horizons.  Walpi is the most inspiring places in Arizona.  Sharing First Mesa with Walpi are the villages of Sichomovi and Tewa (Hano), both established in the late 1600s. 
Hano (Hanoki)
The first village you reach looks Hopi but is really a settlement of the Tewa, a Pueblo tribe from the Rio Grande region to the east. Fleeing from the Spanish after an unsuccessful revolt in 1696, a number of Tewa sought refuge here. Hopi leaders agreed, on the condition that the Tewa act as guardians of the access path to the mesa. Despite living close to the Hopi for so long, the Tewa have retained their own language and ceremonies.

Sichomovi (Sitsomovi)
To the visitor, Hano and the Hopi village of Sichomovi (see-CHO-mo-vee) appear as one, but residents know exactly where the dividing line is. Both Tewa and Hopi live here.

Walpi (Waalpi)
One of the most inspiring places in Arizona, Walpi (WAHL-pee) stands surrounded by sky and distant horizons. Ancient houses of yellow stone appear to grow from the mesa itself. A highlight for many visitors, Walpi dates from the 13th century and is renowned for its ceremonial dances and crafts.
    Because this traditional village is small and its occupants sensitive, visitors may enter only with an authorized Hopi guide. … The turnoff, near Milepost 392 on AZ 264, is signed "First Mesa Village."
    Walking from Sichomovi, you'll watch the mesa narrow to just 15 feet before widening again at Walpi. Unlike most other Hopi villages, Walpi lacks electricity and running water. Residents have to walk back toward Sichomovi to get water or to wash. Look for bowl-shaped depressions once used to collect rainwater. Precipitous foot trails and ruins of old defenses and buildings cling to the mesa slopes far below.
    Signs outside houses in Walpi and the other First Mesa villages let you know where to shop. Usually men carve the kachina dolls and women fashion the pottery. Although most kachina dances at First Mesa remain closed to the public, you may be able to attend social dances.

Follow this link to view a colored post card of Walpai village:

March 1 ***Reading Only

Political Anthropology

This week the text book readings are in Chapter 12. To simplify things for you somewhat, the following sections will not be included in the next test:
p. 302 Anthropology Applied

p. 303 Globalscape

p. 304 Biocultural Connection
Here is a tentative outline of what our class will cover this week:
Monday Political Organization

  1. Iroquois League

  2. Polynesia

Tuesday a. Range of college courses

  1. Political Organization (cont’d)

    1. Iroquois League

    2. Polynesia

Wednesday Justice and Government Systems

  1. Caribou Eskimo

  2. Nuer

  3. Hupa

  4. Twana

  5. Cheyenne

Thursday Politics and Survival

1. Tunica

Friday External Politics and War

1. Hopi and Tewa

In this introductory course on Cultural Anthropology, one of the questions that should be answered is exactly what is included within the specialization of Political Anthropology. One way to see the range of topics and different ways in which they can be investigated is to examine some sample syllabi from at some four-year institutions where there can be a number of levels of classes on the topic (the higher the number, the more advanced the course).
Example One (Introductory Course Overview -- reformatted)
Political Anthropology (Anth 127)

Dr. Derick A. Fay, University of California Riverside

This course examines politics and power through an anthropological perspective.
The first section of the course examines the field of political anthropology as it was practiced roughly through the 1960s, when anthropologists were primarily concerned with politics in so-called primitive societies, institutions of rule in societies in which the state seemed absent, and the evolutionary and historical emergence of the state. It then examines the implications of anthropologists’ recognition of the importance of colonialism and global capitalism on the societies they studied.
The second section considers the way anthropologists have rethought the concept of power, influenced by transformations in the societies they studied, changes in the global political economy, and ideas from thinkers outside the field of anthropology. In doing so, it examines both “formal” politics and everyday forms of power, domination and resistance.
Finally, we consider politics and power in an age of “globalization” -- questioning that term even as we examine its implications for identity, the state, and political action, and emphasizing the ways ethnographically grounded anthropological research can shift from the micro-level to illuminate large-scale, national, transnational and global processes.
Example Two (Advanced Course Overview)

University of Kent, UK
SE543, Political Systems, is a core second year module in Social Anthropology. It is designed to work in co-ordination with other courses on the Social Anthropology syllabus to provide students with a rounded sense of the complexity of social and cultural phenomena and of their complicated yet systematic interrelations. SE543 explores the working of ‘the political' in the organization and dynamics of a wide range of societies, including hunter-gatherers, nomadic peoples, peasant communities and so-called ‘modern' nation states. The module elaborates the theoretical foundations of the subdiscipline of political anthropology, and pays particular attention to the historical contexts in which these theories were developed. Theory is examined with reference to a series of ethnographically-grounded topics including the problem of political order in the absence of the state, the emergence of various forms of political power in particular contexts, the role of symbols, rituals and ideologies in legitimizing and contesting power, the nature of conflict and violence, the establishment and perpetuation of social inequality, and the character of the modern state and its relations with ‘civil society'.
Example Three (Advanced Course Overview)

Dr. Augustus Norton, Boston University
Do “modern” politics differ from premodern politics? How did colonialism and industrial capitalism transform non-Western societies? Is democracy a uniquely Western phenomenon or is it generalizable to non-Western societies? Is nationalism a social disorder or an integral part of being modern? How do we come to define ourselves as citizens of a given state? How does the state establish and sustain its control over its citizenry and how do citizens collectively or individually resist the state’s controls? What are human rights? What social conditions seem to be conducive to democratic governance and which conditions promote tyranny, intolerance and civil violence?
This course examines these and other questions in political anthropology as part of a broader effort to understand the origins and development of the modern political world. In general terms, we are interested this semester in exploring three problems: 1) the origins of modern politics, its institutions, and cultures, both Western and non-Western; 2) the political conditions that have worked at times to create unprecedented human liberty and at other times unparalleled tyranny; and, 3) the prospects for democracy and tolerance among and within the world’s diverse civilizations.
Though our primary focus in this course is on the forces that have shaped the modern era, we seek to understand them comparatively. Among other things, this means that we must analyze premodern patterns of political organization, and the forces that have promoted their destabilization and change. Our discussion will thus examine traditional forms of authority, domination, and resistance; the “rise of the West” and the impact of colonialism on the non-Western world; nationalism and ethnic violence; the role of politics in the development of market capitalism; and the prospects for democracy, freedom, and civil society in the diverse cultures of the modern world. The theme that unites all these concerns is the concept of “integrative revolution”: the political, economic, and cultural processes that have incorporated once autonomous regions into an increasingly interconnected world. These political processes created the modern world; our goal this semester is to understand their origins and implications for our future.

Types of Political Organization (cont’d)
Follow this link to view a simple chart looking at the characteristics of four types of political systems.
Iroquois League (cont’d)
Follow this link to view a map of the Iroquois League in what is now New York State:

This link will lead you to a short essay on the Iroquois League:

Polynesia (cont’d)
Follow these links to view differing versions of maps of Polynesia. The final one shows Polynesian migration beginning in Samoa.
Traditional Stratification and Change

The chief in ancient Polynesian society was the person of highest status, yet he was regarded by his people and generally conducted himself as merely "first among equals." In most of the more traditional of the societies, the chief could not appropriate the land of his followers, nor did he appear to be too interested in increasing his own group's holdings at the expense of neighbouring groups. In terms of his clothing and behaviour, there was little to distinguish him from other males. Nevertheless, he was the repository of sacred power for the group, a symbol of its tie with the past, and the vehicle whereby this tie would be perpetuated for coming generations. Even in the traditional Polynesian societies, however, it was possible for a man to rise in prestige by various achievements; by giving gifts, holding feasts, or displaying military prowess, for example. These activities seem to have contained the seed of change in the traditional social order.

There was a group of Polynesian societies in which the more traditional social order, when breaking down, gave way to one in which chiefs and other individuals of high status no longer held office on the traditional genealogical basis but by virtue of having taken it, often by force, or as a result of some act that raised their prestige higher than that of the actual chief. In these societies the chiefs behaved more autocratically and set themselves off from the rest of the population by various kinds of privileges and behaviour. Changes in leadership were frequent, and kinship groups were split internally and reorganized in the course of internecine wars. Finally, out of this dynamic social situation emerged the most socially and politically advanced Polynesian societies (Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga), with clear-cut social stratification and concentration of all power at the apex of the social pyramid--the paramount chief--below whom were several levels of nobility usually selected on genealogical relationship to the chiefly line. The paramount chiefs and upper classes had absolute powers over the commoners, inflicting cruel physical punishments, such as human sacrifice, for all manner of affronts to their dignities (touching a chief's shadow, for example). Warfare was frequent, well-organized, and marked by acts of great cruelty. Religious and political powers were closely linked, with religious concepts and the gods themselves mirroring the cruelty and viciousness of the societies that had produced them.
Non-Endemic Change
In class I suggested that Polynesian political organization became more complex as the number of people in a society expanded. There is one example where there is evidence that the change was not endemic (endemic = particular to or arising among a particular people) but rather influenced from outside. This happened on Tahiti in the Society Islands.
According to Tahitian oral history, they were once democratic. That is, group action was decided by consensus. But in the 17th century they were invaded by outsiders, maybe from the small atoll (?) of Raiatea. These invaders set up a new stratified political system.
A supreme chief was established. He was owed tribute and military service by all males.
Below the supreme chief were a number of other chiefs (arii) who were rest of the invaders.
The next level were the landowners (raatira). They were descendants of marriages between the invaders and the Tahitians.
At the bottom level were the landless commoners (nanahune). These were the native Tahitians who were treated as if they were aliens from the outside.
So the new system was stratified but it did not grow out of the original egalitarian system.

Thursday February 24th ***Read Only

Groupings by Sex and Age

Follow the link to read my lecture notes on Groupings by Sex and Age:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

(Note: If you have a problem with one or more of these links, go to the class files in my FacWeb site where you found this file and click on the files there labeled Sex-Age-Group 1, 2 and 3.)

Mundurucu Update

The world is rapidly changing and traditional culture is being lost. The following is an update on the information presented about the Mundurucu on Page 2 of the lecture notes.

Ceremonies reported by Murphy as occurring in 1952-1953 were not held during 1979 and 1980. In Cabrua, the three karoko (sacred flutes) were kept in a section of the men's house away from the sight of women, but men did not sleep in the men's house, and the sacred flutes were not played. At one village, a missionary encouraged the community to hold their traditional dances, but most of the teenagers lost interest, went to a nearby house, turned on their record player, and danced as couples to Brazilian country music.

Week 7, Day 29 (Tuesday February 15) ***Reading and Viewing Only

Sexual Beliefs and Inis Beag (cont’d)

Inis Beag was a sexually inexperienced community off the coast of Ireland. In 1960, anthropologists visited this society to collect information on their customs. Inis Beag was considered to be people of the land. They grew potatoes, owned horses, sheep, cattle, and goats. Members of Inis Beag knew practically nothing about sex. Anything sexual was considered a sin except in the case of post-martial reproduction. Children were never allowed to see anyone naked and the genders were usually kept separate. They were sponged-bathed and at an early age only their face, legs, neck, and arms were cleansed. Sex was never discussed so most girls did not know what to do when their first menstrual cycle occurred and they did not know what to expect on their wedding night. Although the men were not experienced either, they learned of intercourse through the teachings of older men and by viewing animals. Nudity was so abhorred that even clothes were not removed during sex. The women were expected to endure intercourse with the largest reluctance and it was considered a mortal sin to enjoy it by having an orgasm.

In terms of sexual attitudes on Inis Beag (said to be a fictional name, used to protect its residents, but most often written about as if that was the real name), here is a website a little more detail:
And another providing some research finding on how the culture shaped personality:

Two Random Definitions of Marriage
1) Marriage is ‘the union of man and woman such that the children born from the woman are recognized as legitimate by the society.
2) Marriage is a transaction and resulting contract in which a woman and a man establish a continuing claim to the right of sexual access to one another, and in which the woman involved is eligible to bear children. 

Types of Marital Unions
The names of the types of marital unions can be confusing because three of them begin with the same morpheme, poly- ‘many’.
A. Monogamy 1 husband with 1 wife
B. Polygany 1 husband or wife with one or more spouse at a time
1. polygyny 1 man with 2 or more wives

2. sororal polygyny 1 man with 2 or more wives who are “sisters”

3. polyandry 1 woman with 2 or more husbands

4. fraternal polyandry 1 woman with 2 or more husbands who are


5. group marriage more than woman and more than one man

Polygyny and the Karuri (cont’d)
Among the Kanuri of Bornu (part of a centralized Muslim state), women are married very young, often to middle-aged men. A woman’s ability to control a husband’s dominance depends on her ability to withdraw food and sexual services. A second wife is a considerable threat to her, resulting in less attention for her as well as for her children, and she loses some of her ability to gain compliance from her husband. However … jealousy among cowives is more a rivalry to secure maximum access to resources for themselves and their offspring than sexual jealousy. To minimize this conflict among cowives, a set of rules is often established that specifies responsibilities and rights concerning sex, economics, and personal possessions.

Polyandry and Fraternal Polyandry
Polyandry is the union between one woman and two or more husbands. It is less common that polygyny. Fraternal polyandry is when the husbands of a woman are brothers.
Follow the following link to read a general introduction to polyandry:
The following links contain my lecture notes on polyandry.
Polyandry including Tibet and Toda
Polyandry including Toda Eskimo and Jaunsar-Bawar

Polyandry in the Himalayas (continued)
One of the more common forms of polyandry is fraternal polyandry; this form has been known to be practiced among groups of Tibet and Nepal and occurs when a group of brothers marries one woman. In this practice the oldest brother usually serves as the groom during the wedding but all brothers are recognized as married through this ceremony and all have sexual access to the woman. All brothers also assume a collective responsibility for the children produced from this marriage. This type of marriage also allows for land holdings in areas with scarce environmental resources to stay concentrated within the family and for the children produced by the woman to have many fathers supporting the family. Like all cultural practices fraternal Polyandry has a specific cultural importance within the communities in which it is practiced. [Among] the Nyinba of Nepal [p]olyandry is deeply integrated within the social construct and history of their culture. Polyandry has historic significant to the Nyinba as their ancestors, who also practiced it, lead harmonious lives making the present practice logical within their cultural foundation. Fraternal polyandry also holds to an important ideal of kinship through the solidarity it creates among the participating brothers. Polyandry among the Nyinba People also plays a crucial role in the set up of their society as it aids in limiting the number of households within the village, thus concentrating resources and enhancing economic possibility.
Here are two videos discussing fraternal polyandry in India (6 minutes and 5 minutes):

Week 7, Day 30 (Wednesday February 16) ***Reading plus One Question

Polyandry and the Toda (continued)
Follow this link to read more about the Toda of Southern India.

Polyandry and the Nayar
One uncommon form of polyandry was found among the Nayars of India.
The Nayar [are] a warrior group of the Malabar coast of India. This tribe had the belief in which the woman was “married” to a man she rarely saw. He received a fee for this and was considered the official “father” of her children. From adolescence, she was free to copulate with several husbands, presented to her by her mother or uncle. Each husband would spend a few days at a time with her and the privilege of hanging his weapons on her door. As wars became less common among the Nayar, they moved toward monogamy.
Follow this link to read more about the Nayar.
Question One:
Why is it difficult to define “marriage” in any simple way that would include the Nayar as a group that has marriage? That is, what elements associated with marriage are left out of the Nayar practice?

Polygyny in the Modern United States
Polyandry was traditionally practices by the Church of Latter Day Saints (or the Mormons). While the official church outlawed the practice in the late 19th century, a conservative sect continues to practice polygyny in colonies located in Utah, Arizona, Mexico and Canada.
Use the following links to read about how it is currently viewed in the state of Utah where about 70% of the population is Mormon.
“Utah’s ‘dirty little secret’ unchecked”
“More than one rejection of polygamy on billboards”

Sororal Polygyny in same society as Fraternal Polyandry
Sororal polygyny prevailed among the various Shoshone groups of the Great Basin. So too did the practice of the sororate. The sororate was the practice of replacing a dead wife with one of her sisters.
Because men generally hunted and women gathered, marriage was essential to form a viable economic unit. Bride-price was common in some groups, but absent in others. If the man was a good hunter, he might have more than one wife. Such polygyny was usually sororal.
Some of the eastern Shoshone groups also practiced a form of fraternal polyandry. A young man might, until he found a suitable wife, function as a second husband to his older brother’s wife. If the older brother should die, his family would attempt to replace him with one of his brothers, a practice known as the levirate.

Treatment of Wives among the Subarctic Tribes
Following this link to read about how wives were traditionally treated among various Subarctic tribes. To locate where this cultural area is, go to the map on page 164 of your text. There you will find three Subarctic areas that the following discussion will treat as one.
Treatment of Wives in Subarctic
Treatment of Wives among the Kikuyu

Traditional Kikuyu families [in Kenya] were [polygynous], with a husband taking more than one wife if he could provide for her. On the other side of the coin, Kikuyu women were also permitted their own lovers outside the marriage as well. It was quite customary for male visitors to share the bed of one of the wives. Any children born to a women were considered the children of her husband, regardless of any biological connection.

The Kikuyu are said to have encouraged women to have at least one child, especially the last born, outside of marriage. This was done in case there might be mental or genetic problems in the family.
Group Marriage and Trial Marriage
The following link contains my lecture notes on Group Marriage and Trial Marriage.
Group Marriage and Trial Marriage 1
Group Marriage and Trial Marriage 2

Week 7, Day 31 (Thursday February 17) ***Reading plus One Question

Directory: nthompson -> Anth206

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