article

Relations between the sexes among the Nuer: 1930

Africa50 (4) • Published In 1980 • Pages: 371-387

By: Hutchinson, Sharon Elaine.

Abstract
This is an erudite analysis of traditional Nuer gender relations based on ethnographic works from the 1930s. Hutchinson sees Nuer gender relations as complimentary and mediated by the symbolism of human blood, which women create but men control. Women attain adulthood at the birth of their first child, men at their initiation rite. Women's identity and status are rooted in their procreative powers, whereas men's are based on their wealth in cattle. Fertility is the essence of femininity and children are the source of women's self-fulfillment. Men's self-fulfillment lies in their cattle. Women are life givers; men are life protectors. Women are the source of new blood. Men control blood, symbolized by their their spears and the bleeding and sacrifice of cattle. The strongest Nuer tie is that between a mother and her children. The Nuer term for relationship is 'mar,' the word for mother. Hutchinson also discusses the metaphor of temperature, which is pervasive in Nuer thought.
Subjects
Division of labor by gender
Gender status
Lineages
Ethnoanatomy
Puberty and initiation
Majority
Adulthood
culture
Nuer
HRAF PubDate
2002
Region
Africa
Sub Region
Eastern Africa
Document Type
article
Evaluation
Ethnologist-4,5
Analyst
Ian Skoggard ; 2000
Coverage Date
1930
Coverage Place
southern Sudan
Notes
Sharon Hutchinson
Includes bibliographical references (p. 387)
LCCN
29010790
LCSH
Nuer (African people)