Mauritian - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Kinship is an important principle of social organization in Mauritius, but its form and content vary between the ethnic groups. The Sino-Mauritians are organized in patricians, which are relevant as units of economic organization. Hindus and Muslims are also patrilineal; the clan feature is, however, less important there, except in very affluent or high-caste families. Among Hindus and Muslims, capital for investment is frequently pooled among relatives. Franco-Mauritians, Mulattoes, and Creoles have cognatic or undifferentiated kinship systems. Sino-Mauritian genealogies go back to one or two generations before arrival in Mauritius. Hindu and Muslim genealogies encompass three or four generations (sometimes more in the case of Brahmans and of Memons, and Surtees, Muslim "high castes"). Franco-Mauritian genealogies are usually detailed and profound; many can trace their ancestry back to several generations before 1789. Creole genealogies are inaccurate and shallow.

Kinship Terminology. The Kreol kin terms maman, papa, ser, frer, tonton, tantinn, gran-mer, gran-per, kuzen, bo-frer, and bel-ser (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law) are universally used. Their significance can vary interethnically; particularly, the meanings of kuzen and tonton (or onk ) are highly variable, and they can sometimes include relatives who would in other contexts be regarded as very remote (or not as relatives at all).


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