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Children in Between: Fostering and the Process of Kinship on Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia

Janet Carsten
Man
New Series, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 425-443
DOI: 10.2307/2803876
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2803876
Page Count: 19
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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.
Children in Between: Fostering and the Process of Kinship on Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia
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Abstract

This article analyses the way kinship is created in and through the conception and nurturance of children amongst Malays on the island of Langkawi. In Langkawi ideas about co-eating and sharing in the house are as fundamental to kinship as are ideas about procreation. These ideas are particularly associated with siblingship, representating the unity of children originating from within one house. Yet children spend much of their lives between houses, and are important mediators in exchanges between them. This mediating role is especially clear in widespread fostering arrangements. Analysis of these arrangements shows that they are centrally concerned with the conversion of affinal into consanguineal links, and with the maintenance of equality between co-parents-in-law. Thus children represent points of transformation between two contrary images of community, one based on the unity of the house, the other on the plurality of exchange between houses. In their growth and their movement, children embody the process of kinship.

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