Afterword: The Challenge of Inalienable Possessions

Annette B. Weiner

in Inalienable Possessions

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076037
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911802 | DOI:
Afterword: The Challenge of Inalienable Possessions

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This chapter summarizes the preceding arguments to show the cultural effort it takes to reconfigure the loss of sisters, the loss of inalienable possessions, and the loss of cosmological authentication, not just because of death or decay, but because of their value to other groups. Local solutions remain disjunctive and incomplete, skewing gender relations in various ways that, in some cases, give women political power and possibilities. In other situations, women may have status in some domains, while they are subordinated in others. Where subordination does occur, as wives, for example, women's willingness to be dominated may be because, as sisters, they achieve a level of authority that ultimately is important for their own children. A simple set of essentialist norms or classifications cannot encompass these multiple possibilities. The very terms reciprocity, reproduction, and incest have long, complicated Western histories that deny their cultural neutrality and reflect Western assumptions about authority, power, and the political domain. By showing that keeping-while-giving is fundamental to the establishment of difference, it is also shown how power is lodged at the center of how women and men produce, guard, and authenticate inalienable possessions.

Keywords: loss; possessions; sisters; gender relations; women; keeping-while-giving

Chapter.  2788 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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