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Anthropology of gender 10 March 2009 Gender, Household and Kinship


These socially recognized ties derive from bilateral, ... Di Leonardo: 'The female world of cards and holidays: Women, families and the work of kinship' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Anthropology of gender 10 March 2009 Gender, Household and Kinship

Anthropology of gender 10 March 2009Gender,
Household and Kinship
  • Family a group of people linked by socially
    recognized kin ties into more or less intimate
    bonds. These socially recognized ties derive from
    bilateral, matrilineal or patrilineal ways of
    understanding descent, depending on the society,
    as well as the affinal and fictive kin who may be
    included, again according to cultural norms.

  • Household a domestic group that may or may not
    be related by kinship and that usually shares
    living space, including perhaps a kitchen and
    certain budgetary items such as food and rent.

  • While households are usually family-based, we
    usually distinguish between the two such that the
    family is considered to be a kin and affective
    group, while household is understood in more
    economic terms.
  • NOTE neither is a unit, in the sense of a
    homogeneous entity with common purpose. Rather,
    both families and households are groups whose
    members may well have conflicting interests.

  • Brettell and Sargent (2009 350) note that
    Collier and Yanagisako have argued that gender
    and kinship are mutually constructed and should
    be brought together in one analytic field. Do
    you agree? Discuss with reference to the

Cable Beyond the pattern of heaven Gender,
kinship and the family in China
  • There is more diversity in Chinese kinship
    structures than is usually recognized.
  • Traditional stereotypes of Han Chinese kinship
    involved a very patriarchal system based on
    Confucionism and patrilineality, with ancestor
    worship of patrilineal kin.
  • - describes all that this entailed for women
  • Presents challenges to this view by Wolf (uterine
    families) and Stafford (yang the need to care
    for both parents)

Cable, continued
  • Also points out that changes since the 1949
    revolution have improved the position of women
  • laws about the equality of women, banning
    concubinism, banning child marriage, etc.
  • replacement of lineage association by party
  • one child policy
  • - effects some improvement for daughters,
    tempered by changes in strictness of the law and
    new reproductive technologies
  • - children more demanding
  • - care of aging parents put in doubt
  • Also draws attention to the kin patterns of 55
    non-Han ethnic groups (8 of population, 100
    million people)
  • - some offer significant levels of equality, e.g.
    Dai, Lahu and Mosuo

Hicks-Bartlett Between a rock and a hard place
The labyrinth of working and parenting in a poor
  • Studies the ways in which women use kin ties to
    be able to manage work and child care, in the
    context of a very poor, dangerous and
    geographically marginal suburb.
  • Calls attention to the multiple challenges women
    face, from trying to protect children, keep jobs,
    fulfill demands of reciprocity from kin,
    difficulty of transportation, arranging child
    care, caring for sick children (frequent given
    poor living conditions), few opportunities to get
    education or training.
  • Help from kin is the best option in the
    circumstances, but is it the best option? How
    could the society achieve the best option?

Prior Matrifocality, power and gender relations
in Jamaica
  • Women as childbearers and care-givers form the
    focal point of a matrifocal kin system.
  • Childbearing establishes adulthood in this
  • Similar to Meadow View, these are poor people
    with complex interconnected ties, although the
    emphasis here is more on the central mother-child
    and mother-childs father relation, than on any
    other mutually beneficial relations with kin.
  • Also similar to Meadow View, men are seen to have
    important, if transient, roles in offering gifts,
    money, sex.

Prior, continued
  • Women are supposed to provide sex and domestic
  • When either partner does not fulfill his or her
    expected role there may be a violent
  • While women are often on the losing end of the
    violence, they do defend themselves.
  • So, who does have more power in this situation?

Di Leonardo The female world of cards and
holidays Women, families and the work of kinship
  • Italian Americans live in nuclear families but
    maintain kin ties.
  • Women do the work of keeping track of kin,
    maintaining contact, organizing family events.
  • Womens knowledge of the family, their own and
    their husbands, is more detailed than mens.
  • Men are more articulate on workplace themes,
    although younger professional women are also
    articulate about work.

Di Leonardo, continued
  • Men are expected to provide income. This is a
    society in which individuals get paid employment,
    rather than being based on shared access to
    resources by a family.
  • Performing kin work can involve power relations
    among women therefore not simply maintaining
    ties of affection, but providing for identity?
  • What will happen as women continue to get
    identity from work? Will no one work at
    maintaining the family? Will long term and more
    extended families become obsolete?

Saheris Choice
  • A patrilineal society in which dowry is often
    given at the marriage of girls outside the
  • Marriages create ties between lineages, which can
    have important economic advantages for the two
  • Wives reside patrilocally, which takes them away
    from the support of their family, especially
    their female kin.
  • Instead, in-laws may not be supportive.
  • Personal affection for an alternative partner is
    not expected to outweigh family interests in
    creating useful and appropriate alliances.
  • Women have few opportunities for economic
  • Harassment makes having a supportive family
  • Why was Saheri able to convince her family not to
    go ahead with the arranged marriage? Does this
    reflect a trend that bodes well for other women
    from this district?
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