Hill Pandaram - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Unlike the caste communities of Kerala, the Hill Pandaram have no unilineal descent system or ideology and there are no recognized corporate groupings above the level of the family. The settlements are in no sense stable or corporate units, but like the forest camps they are residential aggregates that may be described as "transient corporations." The basic kinship unit is the conjugal family, consisting of a cohabiting couple and their young children. A forest camp consists of a temporary grouping of one to four such families, each family constituting a unit. There is a pervasive emphasis on sexual egalitarianism and women sometimes form independent commensal units, though these always are part of a wider camp aggregate. Many encampments consist only of a single family, and such families may reside as separate and isolated units for long periods.

Kinship Terminology. The kinship terminology of the Hill Pandaram is of the Dravidian type common throughout south India, though there is much vagueness and variability in usage. Apart from conjugal ties and close "affinal" relationships (which in contrast to the "kin" links have warmth and intimacy), kinship ties are not "load"-bearing in the sense of implying structured role obligations.


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