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A collection of specially commissioned essays dealing with general aspects of kinship, family and marriage from an anthropological point of view, that is, considering the total range of human societies. In his editorial introduction, Jack Goody explains that his aim has been to provide 'essays dealing with general themes rather than ethnographic conundrums or descriptive minutiae' in the hope of achieving 're-consideration of some central problem areas including those examined by an earlier generation of anthropologists and still raised by scholars outside the discipline itself'. Individual essays cover problems such as the nature of kinship and the family; why monogamy?; intermarriage and the creation of castes. The contributors include R. G. Abrahams, J. A. Barnes, Fredrik Barth, Maurice Bloch, Derek Freeman, Jack Goody, Grace Harris, Jean La Fontaine, Edmund Leach, Julian Pitt-Rivers, Raymond T. Smith, Andrew Strathern and S. J. Tambiah.
Part I. Kinship and Descent: 1. Descent and marriage reconsidered Fredrik Barth; 2. Kinship, descent and locality: some New Guinea examples Andrew Strathern; 3. Descent in New Guinea: an Africanist view Jean La Fontaine; 4. Complementary filiation and bilateral kinship Edmund Leach; Part II. The Nature of Kinship: 5. Genetrix: genitor: nature: culture? J. A. Barnes; 6. The long term and the short term: the economic and political significance of the morality of kinship Maurice Bloch; 7. The kith and the kin Julian Pitt-Rivers; Part III. The Nature of the Family: 8. Kinship, attachment behaviour and the primary bond Derek Freeman; 9. The matrifocal family Raymond T. Smith; 10. Furies, witches and mothers Grace Harris; Part IV. Marriage and Affinal Roles: 11. Some aspects of levirate R. G. Abrahams; 12. Polygyny, economy and the role of women Jack Goody; 13. From varna to caste through mixed unions S. J. Tambiah; Notes; Bibliography of the writings of Meyer Fortes J. A . Barnes; References; Index.