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How Do Awlad ‘Ali Bedouin Ideas About Blood Provide The Idiom For Different Kinds Of Social Relations?

1130 words - 5 pages

Kinship is understood as the relationships in a society through blood and marriage. It is considered a fundamental cultural basis. From kinship systems social norms develop in the communities, including rights and responsibilities, greatly impacting behavior. These systems are described as kinship terms, relationships and groups in a society. Kinship ultimately has two core functions through kinship systems that are crucial for the preservation of culture and societies. First, these ties provide continuation of generations and family formation. The lines of descent, the upbringing and education of children, the compromise to provide material possessions and inheriting social positions are all very important. Second, since kinship is based on interdependent relationships, there are established aid systems. These, however would be compromise by the cultural implications of the extended or nuclear kin groups. Additionally, marriage may or may not be founded by blood relationships. Both the consanguineal and the affinal relationship represents a strong bond. However, the cultural norms would dictate whether both have equal value or acceptance in each society. Anthropologists have studied the implications of kinship. One of the topics researched is between kinship and social relationships. The Awlad ‘Ali Bedouin society in the Western Desert, as studied by Abu-Lughod in 1978-1980, through her ethnography ‘Veiled Sentiments’ (1986), showed distinct evidences of the influence of consanguineal and affinal ties into their idiom of kinship and how it links to their social interactions and relationships. In this way defining the different kinds of social relationships.

Kinship is “a key factor in the formation of social groups”, where descent plays a major role. At the core the system is their relationship as a clan, that goes back in time connecting them with a common ancestor as they migrated from Libya, with whom they share the same blood. This notion of blood of ancestry, or Asl, has very important implications for the Awlad ‘Ali. It unifies them, determining their origins and identity, providing a ‘feeling of belonging’. It also separates them from other societies outside the Awlad ‘Ali and its kin groups. This same conviction of integrity, however, may become ethnocentrism. “The centrality of blood, in the sense of a bloodline, pedigree, or link to illustrious forebears, is apparent... [being there a] belief that a person’s nature and worth are closely tied to the worthiness of his or her ancestry”. Then, the Awlad ‘Ali Bedouins have compared themselves to the Egyptians, where the Bedouins’ clan perspective “implies [that] the Bedouin claim to origins in the Arabian peninsula and to genealogical links to pure Arab tribes who were the first followers of the prophet Muhammad...refer[ing] to themselves as 'arab”. Thus, the Awlad ‘Ali also claim that the Egyptians lack of such privileged descent, makes their ‘mixed blood’ impure, and the Bedouin pure...

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