A Different Kind of Kinship

Topics: Family, Marriage, Matrilineality Pages: 3 (849 words) Published: July 22, 2013
A Different Kind of Kinship
Patricia F. Leavell
ANT353: Anthropology of Gender
Inst. Jeri Myers
March 11, 2013

A Different Kind of Kinship
Societies around the world have different ways of structuring their family units. Some are patrilineal and others, such as the Mosuo, are matrilineal in nature. This means that the family passes their inheritance down through the female line. In the Mosuo culture, they go one-step further than the passing of the inheritance in that the only males that are recognized as having any importance in the Mosuo culture are the brothers or uncles of the female head-of-household. Fathers and husbands, along with the idea of marriage, have little, to no importance in the realm of kinship in this society. This type of kinship is uniquely different from that of the American standard and our own way of life that we tend to find it very intriguing. In comparison with our culture, the Mosuo people seem to be able to uphold important family ties while making it seem effortless to maintain on their part.

The Mosuo kinship example is unique and there may not be another culture like it in the world. Something that is not unique to the Mosuo is having a female head-of-household. However, this is where things begin to be different from other societies. The family unit consists of mother, brothers of the mother, and the children of the mother. Distinctive to the Mosuo culture is the“[…] absence of a formal marital union […]” (Yuan and Mitchell, 2000). Of course, since there is no marriage, husbands do not exist in a family unit. Fathers are also not part of a Mosuo family. Nighttime liaisons are the only time that men and women from different families get together and have romantic encounters. The children created by rendezvous in the night are raised by the mother and cared for by her brothers. They, the children, “belong to the household in which they are born” (Cable, 2009, p 359). Some of the children do know who...

References: Cable, M. (2009). Beyond the “Pattern of Heaven”: Gender, Kinship and the Family in China. In Brettel, C. & Sargent, C. (Eds.). Gender in cross-cultural perspectives. Pgs 352-362. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Yuan, L., & Mitchell, S. (2000). LAND OF THE WALKING MARRIAGE. Natural History, 109(9), 58. Retrieved March 11, 2013 from Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost.
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