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How Does Life In Exile Influence Kinship Practices? Discuss With Reference To At Least Two Ethnographic Case Studies.

2417 words - 10 pages

This essay will attempt to examine how living in exile can influence various kinship practices of different cultures and societies. Many cultures choose a life in exile due to vast economic, social or political issues in their origin country. They may be forced to leave due to their own safety or for the safety of their family. War, conflict and political turmoil is usually one of the most common reasons for groups to relocate elsewhere and start from scratch.
These groups then have to essentially find their place within a new society. Cultures and norms may be completely different so often those living in exile face challenges as the lines between their own culture and traditions and the ideals of the new society start to blur. Their main challenges fall on ‘the necessity [to bridge] the gap to the past and to distant places, in order to create continuity… with the necessity to adapt to new circumstances’. (Engebrigtsen: 2007: 727) They feel a deep loss of their culture and thus are left with the idea of the loss of their own identity.
Kinship ‘serves as a means of formation’, it is a basis for individuals to group together, they groups are essentially a form of social organisation. (Stone: 1997: 11) Generally, the formation of these groups depends on who relates to who. This isn’t always the case, many different cultures and societies group together differently, though they all have an understanding within that society of which group they are in. As every society has their own idea or definition of kin ‘everyone in the society is referred to and addressed by kin term, even though their exact relationship…may be unknown’. (Parkin: 1997: 123) This link or bond can be carried out through generations and is a social basis for future children of that group.
Fox (1967) provided a basic definition for the most common ideology of kin when he stated that ‘consanguinity has long been distinguished from affinity- relatives by blood from relatives by marriage’. (Fox: 1967: 35) Individuals become related through the process of marriage. The notion of marriage is seen throughout the world in many different cultures. The actual process of marriage is varied from place to place, but the idea of forming a bond or a link is a central element throughout. Marriage is ‘essentially a rearrangement of social structure’. (Holy: 1996:127)
In many societies, the process of marriage comes with rules and procedures. In some societies, the marriage process is not complete without some form of prestation or gift transferred from one side of the family to the other. There are generally two main types of prestation given. ‘Bridewealth is paid for the bride by the groom’ and his kin group. (Parkin: 1997: 41) Many anthropologists have suggested that this is essentially a groom paying for his bride which represents the bride as a form of commodity. The second type of prestation is known as a dowry. A dowry is the largest gift that can be given. It is from the bride’s kin group...

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