Same-Sex and Cross-Sex Relations: Some Internal Comparisons

Marilyn Strathern

in Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520228511
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935815 | DOI:
Same-Sex and Cross-Sex Relations: Some Internal Comparisons

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This chapter explores “internal” comparisons involving relations of sex, gender, and generation. In particular, same-sex and cross-sex orientations change across the life span and, in accordance with other corporeal and symbolic bodies, and dependencies and predations, alternately enter into the cultural constitution of gender. These internal dynamics of sex and gender are in turn implicated in the continuities and discontinuities between generations, sometimes in ways that affect the course of culture history. The impetus comes from Melanesian materials where the kinds of dependencies that people imagine for themselves are differently distributed among close relationships. Some Melanesians seem to treat conjugality as they do parent–child relationships. Others do not. Whereas “dependency” generally seems to characterize conjugal relations, it need not necessarily characterize relations between children and parents. And relations between the generations may or may not be perceived as continuous. To this, some counterpoints offered by Amazonian materials are also presented.

Keywords: internal comparisons; same-sex; cross-sex; cultural constitution; gender

Chapter.  11997 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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