Tuvalu - Kinship

Kin Groups, Descent, and Inheritance. Kinship is cognatic, with important links being traced through both parents in the construction of ego-centered kindreds. Descent, however, has an agnatic bias, as shown in the calculation of genealogical links and in property inheritance, title succession, and postmarital residence patterns (virilocal). Thus, while the apex of a descent group was and is typically a founding set of siblings, and the estates that accrued to them could be inherited by males and females alike, eldest sons inherited most. Genealogical knowledge is shallow by Polynesian standards.

Kinship Terminology. Despite variation from one island to another (and within communities), kinship terminology can be summarized as a modified version of the Hawaiian or generational type. Probably the most marked relationship is that between "brother" and "sister" since cross-sex relations produce terms for "father's sister" and "mother's brother" in the parental generation (even though their children are not marked in the same way). Most of these terms are capable of wide genealogical extension, including to affines, and many of them are reciprocal. Given the multiplicity of genealogical paths in a cognatic system, choice of kinship terms is often a matter of choice, rhetoric, and pragmatic advantage.

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