Afro-Hispanic Pacific Lowlanders of Ecuador and Colombia - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The bilateral kindred is the maximum kinship grouping (i.e., the widest group recognized as kin). It is Ego oriented, so membership is overlapping. Genealogical space is established and traversed according to several criteria. One of these is consanguinity; here people figure who is related and who is not by noting their living lineal and collateral relatives. Another criterion is decedence, which means that a person will not reckon a kin relationship through a linkage involving one who has died; other linkages must be found. A third important criterion is affinity/attenuated affinity, which means that one can figure a "kin" relationship by a relationship of affinity or by a relationship once characterized by affinity. In the process of upward mobility, stem kindreds are also formed; here a given person (Ego) reckons his or her own position in genealogical space by reference to a previously established parental, or even grandparental, node. There is no unilineal principle in Afro-Hispanic kinship; it is strictly bilateral, although often matrilaterally skewed.

Compadrazgo is extremely important in the entire social organization, including the kinship and marriage system, of the bearers of Afro-Hispanic culture. It is by establishing ritual coparents at the birth and baptism of children that marriage prohibitions are formed, agreements to care for children made, and cooperative labor formations established and reinforced.

Kinship Terminology. The terminology is nonbifurcate-collateral where collaterals are separated from lineals, and no distinction is made between matrilateral and patrilateral relatives. Reconstruction of a possible early kinship system reveals strong West African roots.


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