Arhem, Kaj. Makuna social organization: a study in descent, alliance, and the formation of corporate groups in the north-western Amazon

Table of Contents

Publication Information

Chapter 1 Introduction

Aims, Scope And Arrangement

Vaupés Social Structure And The Significance Of The Makuna Case

General Theoretical Concerns

The Data And Its Limitations

Ethnographic Sources On The Makuna And Related Groups

Part I General Orientation

Chapter 2 The Theoretical Point Of Departure

Social Organization And Social Classification

The Makuna Relationship Terminology

Relationship Terminology And Social Organization: A Hypothesis

Chapter 3 An Outline Of Makuna Culture

The Makuna

1. The Komeña Makuna

2. History Of Indian—white Contacts

3. The Longhouse Community

4. The Daily Round

Subsistence: Ecology And Economy

1. Shifting Cultivation

2. Fishing And Hunting

3. Gathering

4. Household Work And Food Preparation

5. Food Consumption And Food Restrictions

6. Summary

Religion And Ritual

1. Cosmology

2. Ritual Specialists

3. Life-cycle Rituals

4. The Common Dance Ritual

5. Other Communal Rituals

6. Magic And Sorcery


1. Pattern Of Leadership

2. Political Resources

3. The Politics Of Ritual

4. The Career And Functions Of A Political Leader

5. The Political System: Conflicts And Conflict Resolution


Part Ii Descent

Chapter 4 Ideology Of Descent

Preliminary Remarks

The Idea Of Patrilineal Descent: The Ancestral Journey And The Origin Of Sibs

Concepts And Metaphors Of Descent

1. Masa Butu

Untitled Section: ...

2. The Palm-trunk Metaphor

3. The Body Of The Ancestral Anaconda

4. Ko Ngumu Ngana

Rituals Of Patrilineal Soul Transmission

1. The Jurupari Ritual

2. Spirit Names And The Birth Ritual

The Descent-based Conception Of Society

1. The Set Of Specialist Roles

2. Territoriality

3. Ranking And Spatial Distribution

4. Linguistic Exogamy


Chapter 5 The Descent System At Work

The Makuna: Sibs And Relations Between Sibs

1. The Sib

2. Phratric Segments

3. Order Of Seniority

4. Spatial Distribution

5. The Set Of Specialist Roles

6. Changes In The System: Creation And Extinction Of Sibs

The Wider System

1. The Ancestral Anacondas

2. Phratric Categories

3. The Dual Division Of Social Reality

4. The Relationship Between “kin”

5. Dual Division And Marriage

Summary And Conclusions

1. The Cosmological Model And Social Reality

2. The Dual Versus The Triadic Scheme Of Social Classification

3. Theoretical Considerations

Part Iii Marriage And Alliance

Chapter 6 Marriage And The Dissolution Of Marriage

Preliminary Remarks

Forms Of Marriage Among The Makuna: A Model Of Marriage Exchange

Ideals And Practice In Makuna Marriage

Preliminaries To Marriage

Marriage Arrangement: Direct-exchange Marriage And Gift Marriage

The Bride Capture

The Completion Of Marriage And Post-marital Residence

Age And Season Of Marriage

The Dissolution Of Marriage

1. Death

2. Re-marriage And Widow Inheritance

3. Annulment


Adultery And Extra-marital Sexual Relations

Summary And Conclusions

1. Determinants Of Marriage Forms

2. The Transfer Of Rights In Women

3. Marriage Stability

Chapter 7 Marriage Alliance: The Structure And Function Of Intermarriage

The Pattern Of Marriage Alliance

1. Relationship Category Of Spouse

2. Cross-cousin Marriage

3. Exchange Of Women Between Sibs

4. The Diachronic Sample Of Alliance Marriages: Comments And Analysis

5. The Structure Of Intermarriage Among The Makuna: A Synthesis

The Ideology Of Marriage Exchange

1. Marriage Exchange And The Hunting And Fishing Magic

2. The Food-exchange Ceremony

3. Marrying As Hunting: The Symbolism Of Reciprocity And Predation

4. Marrying As Eating: The Symbolism Of Sex

5. A Cosmological Model

6. Marriage As A Process Of Conjunction And Transformation

7. Beyond The Ideology Of Marriage Exchange

The Politics Of Marriage Exchange

1. Affines As Friends And Enemies

2. The Local Group Of Allies As A Political Unit

Summary And Conclusions

Part Iv Organization In Space And The Formation Of Social Groups

Chapter 8 Organization In Space

The Residence Group

1. Size And Demographic Composition

2. Variation And Stability In Social Composition: Some Definitions

3. Basic Structure

4. Changes In Basic Structure: Fission And Dispersion Of The Residence Group

5. Organization Of Space Within The Longhouse

The Local Group

Territorial Organization

1. Affinal Segmentation

2. Lineal Segmentation

3. Territorial Organization Over Time

Summary And Conclusions

Chapter 9 Towards A Model Of Makuna Social Organization

The Lineal Dimension

The Alliance Dimension

The Segmentary Alliance System: A Model

The Model Generalized

1. Economy

2. Politics

3. Ritual

Part V Theoretical And Comparative Considerations

Chapter 10 Transformations Of The Model: The Structure And Organization Of Four Amerindian Societies Of Lowland South America

The Theoretical Framework

The Comparative Data

1. The Piaroa

2. The Yanomamö

3. The Cubeo


1. Relationship Terminology

2. The Lineal Dimension

3. The Dimension Of Alliance

4. Spatial Organization

5. Summary


1. The Conceptualization Of Co-residential Units

2. The Fraternal Model Of Solidarity

3. The Conversion Of Affines Into Kin

4. The Spatial Expression Of Prescriptive, Symmetric Alliance

5. Organizational Variation: The System Of Transformation

6. Relationship Terminology And Social Organization

7. Temporal Variation: The System Of Transformation As A Process

8. “mother’s Children”: The Third Category

9. The Adaptive Importance Of Prescriptive, Symmetric Alliance

Chapter 11 Conclusions

Makuna Social Organization: Empirical Findings

Prescriptive, Symmetric Alliance As A Structural Code

The Segmentary Alliance System

Organizational Variation And Change

Structure And Organization

Ideology And Social Practice: The Emic—etic Distinction

The Place Of The Makuna In Anthropological Theories Of Social Organization

A Note On The Evolution Of Prescriptive Alliance Systems

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: Makuna social organization: a study in descent, alliance, and the formation of corporate groups in the north-western Amazon

Published By: Uppsala ; Stockholm, Sweden: Academiae Upsaliensis ; Distributed by Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1981. 379 p.: ill.

By line: by Kaj Arhem

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 1998. Computer File

Culture: Tukano (SQ19)

Subjects: Basis of marriage (581); Regulation of marriage (582); Mode of marriage (583); Household (592); Clans (614); Phratries (615);

Abstract: In this work Arhem provides a detailed analysis of three fundamental aspects of the Makuna social reality based on the patrilineal descent system, the pattern of marriage alliance, and spatial organization. 'The Makuna social organization represents a general type of social system, which the author calls 'a system of segmentary alliance'. This type of social system is of considerable theoretical and comparative interest but has so far received little attention in the anthropological literature' (back cover, p. 382). In addition, this study offers a structuralist interpretation of comparative ethnographic material from northern, lowland, South America. The results of this comparison seem to indicate that '...various, apparently disparate indigenous social systems in this perspective represent transformation of a single, underlying structure, encoded in the prescriptive kinship terminology of these societies' (back cover, p. 382).

Document Number: 13

Document ID: sq19-013

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Note: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Uppsala University, 1981 Includes bibliographical references (p. 359-363) and index

Field Date: October 1971-December 1973

Evaluation: Ethnologist-5

Analyst: John Beierle ; 1996

Coverage Date: 1971-1973

Coverage Place: Komena Makuna Indians, Vaupés region of north-western Amazon, eastern Colombia

LCSH: Tukano Indians


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