In this volume an international group of anthropologists and
historians examines the complex relationships between family life,
culture, and economic change in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dissatisfied with interpretations based on European experience,
these scholars incorporate the particular histories, ideologies,
and aspirations of New World peoples into analyses informed by
The study of kinship in Latin America has been in the past
dominated by anthropologists concerned with primitive Indian
groups. The few scholars who have investigated family life in urban
or more developed rural groups have focused on what they believe to
be the impact of modernization on traditional systems brought from
Europe or carried forward from an Indian past. In "Kinship Ideology
and Practice in Latin America," the contributors show that,
contrary to the belief that urbanization and economic development
lead to individualism, social atomization, and the dissolution of
the family, the rich as well as the poor of Latin America are
sustained by, and use, extensive kinship ties.
The essays include analyses of kinship and godparenthood among
slaves in the West Indies and Brazil; studies of Andean kinship
from Incan times to the present; and descriptions of kinship and
marriage among Brazilian slum dwellers and plantation workers,
Mexican millionaires, cowboys, and peasants, and the Jamaican
middle class. One essay uses translations of original documents to
follow the changing meanings of such concepts as love, "heart,"
concupiscence, and carnality during the economic changes that
affected colonial New Mexico. Each contribution focuses on a
particular aspect of the four major areas covered: the definition
and dynamics of kinship, familial ties originating in nuclear
relations and their extensions, the meaning and
institutionalization of "compadrazgo" (ritual kinship), and the
organization of marriage.
In his introduction, Raymond Smith discusses the present state of
kinship theory with special reference to the issues illuminated by
these essays. He notes that contributors from varied backgrounds in
history, anthropology, and sociology meet on common ground because
"given a theoretical approach that views society as a process in
time, structures by principles that are historically reconstituted,
reproduced, and transformed, it is evident that history and social
science cease to be distinguishable." With this premise, "Kinship
Ideology and Practice in Latin America" should appeal to scholars
from a number of disciplines.
Originally published in 1984.
A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the
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historical and cultural value.
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