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The Anthropology of Marriage in Lowland South AmericaBending and Breaking the Rules$
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Paul Valentine, Stephen Beckerman, and Catherine Alès

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054315

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054315.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Beyond the Norms

Beyond the Norms

Marriage and Incest among the Ye’kwana

Chapter:
(p.85) 5 Beyond the Norms
Source:
The Anthropology of Marriage in Lowland South America
Author(s):

Nalúa Rosa Silva Monterrey

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813054315.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the norms that lead to qualifying marriage as permitted versus “incestuous” (incorrect or prohibited) in the Ye’kwana marriage system. The Ye’kwana live in lowland South America/Amazonia, have a Dravidian kinship system, and a very high proportion of incestuous marriages. This chapter works with a rich data base; 200 marriages drawn from 2,366 people of whom 820 marriages were registered. The material collected by Silva Monterrey, together with that collected by de Barandiarán in the 1950s, shows that over a quarter of marriages were incestuous and that this pattern is old. Moreover, variations in the frequency of incestuous marriages cannot be explained as a consequence of demographic changes. One could not hope for a firmer demonstration of the importance of looking beyond the formal rules of marriage and exploring actual behaviour. Silva Monterrey throws down the challenge and asks, why do the Ye’kwana apparently commit marital incest with such astounding frequency?

Keywords:   Ye’kwana, Dravidian kinship system, incest

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