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Australian Kin Classification


Part of Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Date Published: November 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521040525

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About the Authors
  • This study aims to resolve the century-old debate about the nature of Australian aboriginal societies and the comparability of their structures with the structures of other tribal and kinship-based societies. It begins with a critical evaluation and refutation of the claims that Australians are 'ignorant of physical paternity' and therefore cannot have systems of kin classification. Professor Scheffler then demonstrates that systems of kin classification are a common feature of Australian languages and that, contrary to the theory proposed by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and others, variation in the rules of interkin marriage does not account for variation in systems of kin classification. This was the first monographic treatment of the subject since Radcliffe-Brown's classic work, The Social Organization of the Australian Tribes, published in 1931, and is much more comprehensive and synthetic in its coverage of the range of variation in Australian systems of kin classification. It applies the concepts and methods of structural semantic analysis to a broad range of ethnographic and linguistic data, and demonstrates how they resolve one of anthropology's oldest and most perplexing theoretical puzzles.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521040525
    • length: 592 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 33 mm
    • weight: 0.86kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of tables
    List of figures
    Map of tribal locations in Australia
    1. Preliminary considerations
    2. Types and varieties
    3. Pitjantjara
    4. Kariera-like systems
    5. Nyulnyul and Mardudhunera
    6. Karadjeri
    7. Arabana
    8. Yir Yoront and Murngin
    9. Walbiri and Dieri
    10. Ngarinyin
    11. An overview
    12. Kin classification and section systems
    13. Variation in subsection systems
    14. Kinship and the social order

  • Author

    Harold W. Scheffler, Yale University, Connecticut

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