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How Some Murngin Men Marry Ten Wives: The Marital Implications of Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Structures

Ian Keen
Man
New Series, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 620-642
DOI: 10.2307/2802037
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2802037
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
How Some Murngin Men Marry Ten Wives: The Marital Implications of Matrilateral Cross-Cousin Structures
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Abstract

A Comparison of data on two neighbouring Australian societies reveals considerable differences in modes of kin classification, the degree of polygynous marriage, the size and structure of land-owning groups and aspects of political relations. To explore the inter-relations among these features the paper focuses on the conditions for differences in the degree of polygynous marriage. It is found that some Yolngu men are able to acquire many more wives than Gidjingali men for a number of connected reasons: the mode of kin classification determines an optimum age difference between potential spouses; rival claims are more easily ranked; the ethic of fraternal generosity is weaker; and patrilineal groups are more politically effective in supporting members' claims.

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