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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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Why Do the Ye’kwana Commit Incest So Frequently?

Why Do the Ye’kwana Commit Incest So Frequently?

A Discussion of Silva’s “Beyond the Norms”

(p.100) 6 Why Do the Ye’kwana Commit Incest So Frequently?
The Anthropology of Marriage in Lowland South America

Paul Valentine

University Press of Florida

Based on Silvia Monterrey’s extensive field data and ethnogrpahic literature on the Ye’kwana, Valentine argues that Monterrey overestimates the proportion of “out of order” marriages, and that although the Ye’kwana have a kinship terminology that articulates a clear set of norms, because each community wishes to retain its population, “wrong marriages” with the parallel cousin are a way to keep villagers from leaving the village. Upon their marriage, parallel cousins are immediately reclassified as cross-cousins. In addition, this chapter argues that there are certain oscillations in the social structure, and that structural and contingent factors account for why the Ye’kwana have “married in” and survived, rather than marrying out and dying out. Several other hypotheses are also suggested that could be tested with additional historical research and fieldwork.

Keywords:   Ye’kwana, incest, marriage, parallel cousin

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