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Title:Change and stability: Agta kinship in a history of uncertainty
Author(s):Griffin, Marcus Bion
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lehman, Frederic K.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:The Agta view their environment in terms of a social landscape and base their exploitation of resources on the availability and quality of social connections. With whom the Agta work is more important to them than whether they act as foragers, traders, paramilitary scouts, farmers, or wage laborers. They work as kinfolk. I use a formal theory of kinship (Lehman and Witz 1974, Witz and Lehman 1979, Lehman 1993) to illustrate how Agta society operates through kinship. This study demonstrates that social relations are not necessarily products of economic systems.
Previous studies of the Agta have focused on their subsistence strategies and trading relationships with neighboring non-Agta farmers. This dissertation fills a gap in research on the Agta by providing a baseline study of their systems of kinship terminology, marriage, and descent. Agta kinship terminology is described and analysed by comparing a componential analysis with Lehman algebra and Primary Genealogical Space. The latter is shown to have more explanatory force than the former. Marriage among the Agta is discussed using a culturally universal definition of marriage that assumes one of its primary functions is to structure children into a web of kinship identities and roles. I argue that the Agta have cognatic descent phrased groups based on genealogical criteria tying people to residence areas (and their range of resources) and operational criteria that mobilizes active descent phrased group membership from potential membership. I reject the argument that descent is a cultural system limited to unilineal constructs.
I show that many disagreements in kinship studies are the result of not keeping the subject (terminology, marriage, descent) analytically separate from its content (cultural behavior). As a result, I consider marriage a pan-human social system and show that descent is not simply a single mode of genealogical reckoning. My baseline study of Agta kinship provides the framework from which more detailed studies of the relationship between social structure and the environment may be conducted.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Griffin, Marcus Bion
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712289
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712289

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