Over many decades, anthropologists have found that culture and enculturation can strongly influence behaviors and customs we often view as instinctual or natural. The relative power of men and women in society is one example. For example, although many societies tend to be patriarchal (giving men most of the positions of power), Raymond Scupin suggests that kinship plays an important role in modifying the position of women in these societies. Scupin claims that women have a higher social status in societies with kinship systems that emphasize matrilocality (i.e. living with the wife’s family) and matrilineal descent (i.e. determining inheritance and descent through the female line) compared to societies with kinship systems that emphasize patrilocality and patrilineal descent. For this project, I want you to compare two different societies: the Minangkabau of Indonesia and the Yanomamo of Venezuela to see whether Scupin is correct about the relationship between the socio-economic status of women and kinship.
A. introduceScupin’s hypothesis that the social and economic status of women in patriarchal
tribes is affected by the kinship systems of these tribes (e.g. patterns of residence, marriage, and descent)
B. introduce the societies you will compare (i.e. the Minangkabau and Yanomamo, their location and status as horticultural tribes) and why you will compare them (i.e. to test Scupin’s hypothesis)
A. compare the social and economic status of women among the Minangkabau and
theYanomamo (i.e. How important are their economic contributions to these tribes?; What is the general position of women in these tribes compared to the position of men?)
B. compare the kinship systems of the Minangkabau and Yanomamo (i.e. Where
do men and women live after marriage?; What are their patterns of descent like?)
A. summarize your findings from the comparisons you made in the body of the paper
B. based on what you found, do you think Scupin is correct about the relationship
between the socio-economic status of women and kinship in patriarchal tribes
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