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A matrifocal family structure is one where mothers head families and fathers play a less important role in the home and in bringing up children.
The concept of the matrifocal family was introduced to the study of Caribbean societies by Raymond Smith in 1956. He linked the emergence of matrifocal families with how households are formed in the region: "The household group tends to be matri-focal in the sense that a woman in the status of 'mother' is usually the de facto leader of the group, and conversely the husband-father, although de jure head of the household group (if present), is usually marginal to the complex of internal relationships of the group. By 'marginal' we mean that he associates relatively infrequently with the other members of the group, and is on the fringe of the effective ties which bind the group together".Smith emphasises that a matrifocal family is not simply woman-centred, but rather mother-centred; women in their role as mothers become key to organising the family group; men tend to be marginal to this organisation and to the household (though they may have a more central role in other networks). Where matrifocal families are common, marriage is less common. In later work, Smith tends to emphasise the household less, and to see matrifocality more in terms of how the family network forms with mothers as key nodes in the network. Throughout, Smith argues that matrifocal kinship should be seen as a subsystem in a larger stratified society and its cultural values. He increasingly emphasises how the Afro-Caribbean matrifocal family is best understood within of a class-race hierarchy where marriage is connected to perceived status and prestige.
"A family or domestic group is matrifocal when it is centred on a woman and her children. In this case the father(s) of these children are intermittently present in the life of the group and occupy a secondary place. The children's mother is not necessarily the wife of one of the children's fathers." ... the household economy", and males tend to be absent. Men's absences are often of long durations. One of R. T. Smith's contemporary critics, M. G. Smith, notes that while households may appear matrifocal taken by themselves, the linkages between households may be patrifocal. That is, a man in his role as father may be providing (particularly economic) support to a mother in one or more households whether he lives in that household or not. Both for men and for women having children with more than one partner is a common feature of this kind of system.In general, according to Laura Hobson Herlihy citing P. Mohammed, women have "high status" if they are "the main wage earners", they "control
Alternative terms for 'matrifocal' or 'matrifocality' include matricentric, matripotestal, and women-centered kinship networks.
The matrifocal is distinguished from the matrilocal, the matrilineal, matrilateral and matriarchy (the last because matrifocality does not imply that women have power in the larger community).
According to anthropologist Maurice Godelier, matrifocality is "typical of Afro-Caribbean groups" and some African-American communities.These include families in which a father has a wife and one or more mistresses; in a few cases, a mother may have more than one lover. Matrifocality was also found, according to Rasmussen per Herlihy, among the Tuareg people in northern Africa; according to Herlihy citing other authors, in some Mediterranean communities; and, according to Herlihy quoting Scott, in urban Brazil. In their study of family life in Bethnal Green, London, during the 1950s, Young and Wilmott found both matrifocal and matrilineal elements at work: mothers were a focus for distributing economic resources through the family network; they were also active in passing down the rights to tenancies in matrilineal succession to their daughters.
Herlihy found matrifocality among the Miskitu people, in the village of Kuri, on the Caribbean coast of northeastern Honduras in the late 1990s. .... Their power lies beyond the scope of the Honduran state, which recognizes male surnames and males as legitimate heads of households." Herlihy found in Kuri a trend toward matriliny and a correlation with matrilineality, while some patriarchal norms also existed. Herlihy found that the "women knew more than most men about village histories, genealogies, and local folklore" and that "men typically did not know local kinship relations, the proper terms of reference, or reciprocity obligations in their wife's family" and concluded that Miskitu women "increasingly assume responsibility for the social reproduction of identities and ultimately for preserving worldwide cultural and linguistic diversity". The Nair community in Kerala and the Bunt community in Tulunadu in South India are prime examples of matrifocality.[ citation needed ] This can be attributed to the fact that if males were largely warriors by profession, a community was bound to lose male members at youth, leading to a situation where the females assumed the role of running the family.[ citation needed ].According to Herlihy, the "main power" of Kuri women lies "in their ability to craft everyday social identities and kinship relations
In the 14th century, in Jiangnan, South China, under Mongol rule by the Yuan dynasty, Kong Qi kept a diary of his view of some families as practicing gynarchy, not defined as it is in major dictionariesbut defined by Paul J. Smith as "the creation of short-term family structures dominated by women" and not as matrilineal or matriarchal. The gynarchy possibly could be passed down through generations. According to Paul J. Smith, it was to this kind of gynarchy that "Kong ascribed...the general collapse of society" and Kong believed that men in Jiangnan tended to "forfeit...authority to women".
Matrifocality arose, Godelier said, in some Afro-Caribbean and African American cultures as a consequence of enslavement of thousands. ... [women] living on their own."Slaves were forbidden to marry and their children belonged to the slavemasters. Women in slave families "often" sought impregnation by White masters so the children would have lighter skin color and be more successful in life, lessening the role of Black husbands. Some societies, particularly Western European, allow women to enter the paid labor force or receive government aid and thus be able to afford to raise children alone, while some other societies "oppose
In feminist belief (more common in the 1970s than in the 1990s–2000s, and criticized within feminism and within archaeology, anthropology and theology as lacking a scholarly basis), there was a "matrifocal (if not matriarchal) Golden Age" before patriarchy.
Yahweh was the national god of the kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age and apparently to the Late Bronze Age, and in the oldest biblical literature he is a storm-and-warrior deity who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies. At that time the Israelites worshipped Yahweh alongside a variety of Canaanite gods and goddesses, including El, Asherah and Baal, but in time El and Yahweh became conflated, El-linked epithets such as El Shaddai came to be applied to Yahweh alone, and other gods and goddesses such as Baal and Asherah were absorbed into the Yahwistic religion.
Matriarchy is a social system in which females hold the primary power positions in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. While those definitions apply in general English, definitions specific to the disciplines of anthropology and feminism differ in some respects. Most anthropologists hold that there are no known anthropological societies that are unambiguously matriarchal, but some authors believe exceptions may exist currently or may have existed in the past.
Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's lineage – and which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles. A matriline is a line of descent from a female ancestor to a descendant in which the individuals in all intervening generations are mothers – in other words, a "mother line". In a matrilineal descent system, an individual is considered to belong to the same descent group as their mother. This matrilineal descent pattern is in contrast to the more common pattern of patrilineal descent from which a family name is usually derived. The matriline of historical nobility was also called their enatic or uterine ancestry, corresponding to the patrilineal or "agnatic" ancestry.
In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states that "the study of kinship is the study of what man does with these basic facts of life – mating, gestation, parenthood, socialization, siblingship etc." Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are "working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends." These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political and religious groups.
The Diyari, alternatively transcribed as Dieri, is an Indigenous Australian group of the South Australian desert originating in and around the delta of Cooper Creek to the east of Lake Eyre.
Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of newborn female children. In countries with a history of female infanticide, the modern practice of sex-selective abortion is often discussed as a closely related issue. Female infanticide is a major cause of concern in several nations such as China, India and Pakistan. It has been argued that the low status in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females.
Avoidance speech is a group of sociolinguistic phenomena in which a special restricted speech style must be used in the presence of or in reference to certain relatives. Avoidance speech is found in many Australian Aboriginal languages and Austronesian languages as well as some North American languages, Highland East Cushitic languages and Bantu languages.
Kinship terminology is the system used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an individual is related through kinship. Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology; for example, some languages distinguish between consanguine and affinal uncles, whereas others have only one word to refer to both a father and his brothers. Kinship terminologies include the terms of address used in different languages or communities for different relatives and the terms of reference used to identify the relationship of these relatives to ego or to each other.
Nukunu are an Aboriginal Australian people of South Australia, living around the Spencer Gulf area. In the years after British colonisation of South Australia, the area was developed to contain the cities of Port Pirie and Port Augusta.
In human society, a family is a group of people related either by consanguinity or affinity. The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would offer predictability, structure, and safety as members mature and participate in the community. In most societies, it is within families that children acquire socialization for life outside the family. Additionally, as the basic unit for meeting the basic needs of its members, it provides a sense of boundaries for performing tasks in a safe environment, ideally builds a person into a functional adult, transmits culture, and ensures continuity of humankind with precedents of knowledge.
The Tiwi people are one of the many Aboriginal groups of Australia. Nearly 2,000 Tiwi people live on Bathurst and Melville Islands, which make up the Tiwi Islands, lying about 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Darwin. The Tiwi language is a language isolate, with no apparent link to the languages of Arnhem Land on the Australian mainland. Their society is based on matrilineal descent, and marriage plays a very important part in many aspect of their lives. Art and music form an intrinsic part of their societal and spiritual rituals. The Stolen Generations saw many Indigenous people brought to the Tiwi Islands who were not of direct Tiwi descent.
The Mahafaly are an ethnic group of Madagascar that inhabit the plains of the Betioky-Ampanihy area. Their name means either "those who make holy" or "those who make happy", although the former is considered more likely by linguists. In 2013 there were an estimated 150,000 Mahafaly in Madagascar. The Mahafaly are believed to have arrived in Madagascar from southeastern Africa around the 12th century. They became known for the large tombs they built to honor dead chiefs and kings. Mainly involved in farming and cattle raising, they speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group.
The breadwinner model is a paradigm of family centered on a breadwinner, "the member of a family who earns the money to support the others." Traditionally, the earner works outside the home to provide the family with income and benefits such as health insurance, while the non-earner stays at home and takes care of children and the elderly.
Women in the Americas are women who were born in, who live in, and are from the Americas, a regional area which encompasses the Caribbean region, Central America or Middle America, North America and South America. Their evolution, culture and history coincide with the history of the Americas, though often the experiences of women were different than those of male members of society. The differences in women's experiences often had to do with division of labor or constraints placed on them due to traditional roles in society. The effects of slavery, bondage and colonization has had a profound effect on women in the Americas over time.
Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family is an 1871 book written by Lewis Henry Morgan and published by the Smithsonian Institution. It is considered foundational for the discipline of anthropology and particularly for the study of human kinship. It was the culmination of decades of research into the variety of kinship terminologies in the world conducted partly through fieldwork and partly through a global survey of kinship terminologies in the languages and cultures of the world.
Multiple tribes in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India practise matrilineal descent. Often referred to as Khasi people and Garo people, among the Khasi people which is a term used as a blanket term for various subgroups in Meghalaya who have distinguishing languages, rites, ceremonies, and habits, but share an ethnic identity as Ki Hynniew Trep whereas the Garo people refers to the various groups of Achik people. The Khasi, Garo, and other subgroups have a proud heritage, including matrilineality, although it was reported in 2004 that they were losing some of their matrilineal traits. The tribes are said to belong to one of the "largest surviving matrilineal culture[s]" in the world.
The Bingongina or Pinkangarna are a possible indigenous Australian people of the Northern Territory. However, the name may simply be a former alternative term for Mudburra.
Dany Bébel-Gisler was an Afro-Guadeloupean writer and sociolinguist who specialized in Antillean Creole and ethnology. She was one of the first linguists to defend the preservation and teaching of Creole languages and study how the interplay of the lingua franca of the Caribbean reflected the social hierarchy, as well as the assimilation or lack thereof of both the colonizers and colonized. She was instrumental in the development of UNESCO's The Slave Route Project, tracing the intersection of African, Caribbean and European cultures and published several novels and children's books on Guadeloupean culture.
There Comes Papa is an 1893 painting by the Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma. The painting focuses on Varma's daughter and grandson, looking towards the left at an approaching father. Evoking both Indian and European style, the painting has been noted by critics for its symbolism regarding the decline of the Nair matrilineal practices.
Florence Petty was a Scottish cookery writer and broadcaster.