30
Sep
09

More Important Things

So, I’ve been reading Performing Kinship and I have a few things I’d like to share. My review won’t be posted until Friday (at the earliest), but I’d like to bring up a couple of ideas which were quite interesting which I may elaborate on even further at a future time.

1) The Sullk’atas relatedness stems from a combination of “birth kinship” and ayllu membership. The ayllu is the community and is defined by exchange and reciprocity. This exchange comes in the form of food and labor. Children are defined through the one-way exchange of food from parent to child. This gets particularly interesting when children are adopted or “given” to an older relative or in the inability of the “birth parent” to care for the child. In this sense, a child may have two (or possibly more) mothers; the mother who gave birth to the child and the mother(s) who raised the child. The author gives the example of “Javier’s Mothers” in which Javier’s birth mother (Julia) was injured shortly after giving birth. As a result of her inability to care for Javier, Julia’s sister (Silveria) cared for Javier while her sister was injured. Upon Julia’s recovery, she wished to care for Javier once more. The status of Javier as “Julia’s son” is undisputed, but Javier’s status as “Silveria’s son” is also undisputed. Since both of these women participated in the one-way contribution to raising Javier, both women are considered Javier’s mothers. This is similar to the explanation of why it is a falsehood that adopted parents are not the “biological” parents and explains it in quite a similar way. As a child of both mothers, Javier is expected to reciprocate caring through the giving of gifts to both “mothers” upon adulthood or when returning from school or work in the city.

2) Sex, marriage, and children: The Sullk’ata assume the young man and woman to be wed have had sex prior to the formal marriage (Catholic) and as such, children and parents are not stigmatized if the parents have not undergone the formal wedding. Additionally, women are not stigmatized for having sex (and children) prior to warmi suway (to steal a woman; usually during Carnival) or warmi mañay (to marry a woman). The individuals are assumed to be drunk (during Carnival) and because of this are not considered responsible for their own actions, but sex is something which is assumed to take place, just not around the adults of the community. A woman can return to her parents after being “stolen” and is generally accepted back into the family, although usually after a scolding.

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