Cattle Ranchers of the Huasteca - Kinship



As in many agrarian societies, landownership, politics, and kinship are closely interconnected.


Kin Groups, Descent, and Kinship Terminology. Strictly speaking, mestizo rancheros do not have corporate kinship groups. Nevertheless, their large extended families, many of whom may enter into joint business ventures, often function as political "clans." A good example is the influential Santos family, which ruled the San Luis Potosí portion of the Huasteca for several generations. As in other parts of Latin America, Spanish surnames are passed on through the male line, although both men and women obtain the paternal surname of their mother as well. Officially, all property is inherited through both the male and female lines, but the male offspring are more likely to gain access to the family estate.

As with other Spanish-speaking Mexicans, kinship terminology is of the lineal or Eskimo type (as is the case for most Speakers of European languages). People in the Huasteca, however, distinguish between close, usually first, cousins ( primos hermanos ) and more distant primos. This emphasis on differing degrees of proximity is consistent with the large size of extended families and the even more extensive network of in-laws and relatives.

Ties with both distant relatives and friends or neighbors can be strengthened by the well-known Latin American institution of compadrazgo (coparenthood). This is a form of fictive kinship whereby one couple promises to help another after becoming godparents of their child or sponsoring another ritual for them. Rancheros can become compadres to other rancheros as well as to economic subordinates.

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