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Caplan, Ann Patricia (1968) Non-unilineal kinship on Mafia Island, Tanzania. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis considers a system of non-unilineal kinship in a village called Kanga on Mafia Island, off the coast of East Africa. The aim of the thesis is to see how individuals manipulate their membership of cognatic descent groups to maximize their advantages in various social contexts. Chapter 1 provides a theoretical Introduction, considering some of the problems arising from a study of non-unilineal societies. Chapter II presents background on the oecology, population and economy of the Island and the village. In the third Chapter, the framework of the descent groups is discussed; they are shown to be cognatic, unrestricted and corporate. The next Chapter examines factors which condition residence choices. In Chapter V, people are seen to affiliate with a number of descent groups over a period of time in order to obtain cultivable land; their decisions in this context are not necessarily affected by where they reside. In Chapter VI, It is stressed that in many contexts, the individual does not only choose between affiliation with one descent group or another, but between using his descent links and using his network of kin, affines, neighbours and friends. Chapters VII and VIII discuss the relationship between descent groups, and status and power. High status is seen to be associated with groups whose members are thought to be particularly pious Muslims, while those groups whose members practise spirit possession are accorded low status. Finally, the thesis concludes that those descent groups which control important channels of power, such as political and religious offices, including spirit possession guilds, are the most corporate, in the sense that their members tend to affiliate with them in most social contexts. In such groups, people tend to intra-marry to a greater extent than in less corporate groups, in order to keep the control of channels of power in the hands of a few people.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:06

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