Baggara - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The Baggara are patrilineal. They are normatively endogamous, and the preferred marriage partner is one of the close cousins, either a patrilateral or matrilateral, or a parallel or cross cousin. The preferred close-cousin marriage pattern creates bilateral, multiplex kinship links, which serve to strengthen group cohesiveness. Genealogies are reckoned to a depth of five or six generations. Kinship relationships move outward to define units in a segmentary lineage system. The first segment is the iyal rajul (sons of a man), a minimal lineage of about three generations' depth. A minimal lineage forms the basis of a camping unit. A major lineage segment, known as the khashm beit ("mouth of the house"), is composed of a number of minimal lineages.

Kinship Terminology. Baggara kinship terminology distinguishes between agnatic (patrilineal) and uterine (matrilineal) kin. This descriptive system allows a person to single out specific kin and state precisely what relationship exists. Another system that is used is classificatory: it allows a person to include large numbers of people among his or her close relatives, even when close genealogical relationships do not exist. Thus, all members of one's own generation are addressed as brother or sister, and so on.


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