Strange Kin: Maternal Uncles and the Spectrum of Relatives

Rupert Stasch

in Society of Others

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256859
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943322 | DOI:
Strange Kin: Maternal Uncles and the Spectrum of Relatives

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This chapter reviews the significance of maternal uncle relationships and describes how the principles of this relationship play out across people's overall worlds of kin. It draws on how uncle relations make geography co-mediative with social connections of gender, bodily genesis, care, coresidence, and generational succession. It then moves from specific kin categories to the category “relative” in general. An example is presented that show the tie between the mother's brother and the sister's child. The practical importance of uncles often turns on their identification with a clan place separate from the nephew or niece's own. For Korowai, kinship belonging involves calling each other by kinship terms, being frequently in each other's presence, living together or near each other, giving each other food and other gifts, and interacting in a mode of unconditional sharing and generous mutual concern. Kinship belonging is an impossible standard: the ideal includes its own failure.

Keywords: maternal uncle; kinship; gender; bodily genesis; care; coresidence; generational succession; Korowai

Chapter.  12676 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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