Culina - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The Culina describe their villages as organized around a group of siblings, their spouses, children, and children's children. All village members are felt to be related by ties of kinship, and for each individual the village may be further divided into two groups: parallel kin related by metaphorical "sibling" ties and cross kin related as "affines." Roles are not highly differentiated, except by gender.

Political Organization. The village is the broadest political unit, although villages sometimes join together in political action. Village leadership is vested in a senior man who holds this position as long as he can effectively maintain the support of the village; he leads by his personal power, not by any formal authority. Within villages there are often two or more political factions that may clear gardens or hunt in separate areas and that may have distinct leaders. Factions can emerge when two groups of senior adult siblings form a single village, and, ultimately, village fissioning occurs along these lines. Brazilian policy allows the Culina to maintain their traditional political system, but FUNAI has made efforts to designate a single, "official" headman, or tuxawa.

Social Control and Conflict. Day-to-day social control is maintained by a strong feeling that the close kin who comprise a village should live harmoniously, avoiding overt conflict. Gossip and fear of accusations of witchcraft also discourage antisocial behavior. Physical violence may be punished by banishment from the village. Nonetheless, social stress, anger, and tensions occur in the normal course of life. From time to time, Culina men drink small amounts of a Brazilian rum, cachaça , and, under its influence, become extremely aggressive and bellicose; open fighting occurs and serious injuries may be inflicted. In these cases, drunkenness reduces the personal responsibility of the individuals involved. Intervillage conflict has become rare but occasionally follows accusations of witchcraft.


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