Kinship; Hanunoo

Kinship in Hanunoo contex

In Harold C. Conklin’s chapter on “Maling, a Hanunoo Girl from the Philippines”, he makes an important observation of Maling, who reveals the traits of her family kinship relations, as well as the cultural traditions praticed by the Parina people. Firstly,the socially expected roles of a female in the community, whereby Maling is aware of her future as she takes the place of her sisters who would be married off in due time. Her attitude toward this arrangement in a matter-of-fact way would be coupled with her limited, yet intimate knowledge of her community’s structure and environment: whereby daughters were born to families with the expectation that they would be married off.

The importance of women’s role is especially highlighted in the agricultural way of living in the Parina context. This translates to greater need for the functioning of gender as well as kinship roles, as jobs and livelihood are centered around the harvesting of crops, and where women fulfill their roles both as mothers and field-workers, as illustrated by Maling’s mother, Sukub. Ordering marriages in this community is therefore important in sustaining the community’s reproduction of culture and traditions, whereby women are viewed with statuses that change in different courses of life course, attached to terms like being “marriageable”. In this case, women being marriageable only to men of the same community- the Hanunoo marriage residence rule.

The importance of sons is also related to more practical reasons, for the functioning of hard labour which requires strength, as Maling calls it, to “have a man who climbs trees”.

In Maling’s family, the naming system is similar to Ju’hoansi society, whereby children are normally named after the grand or great-grandparents. The importance of the grandparents’ consent is therefore illustrated through the defining moment when the name “Gawib”, was decided for the new-born infant, only in the presence of Maling’s grandparents.However, this naming system is coupled with superstitious beliefs where naming one after a good hunter would result in the child being born akin to the deceased legend.

In this society, the notion of superstition is strictly reverent, as observed by the process of “undoing” what Gawib’s parents had done to sooth contractions of birth in Sukub’s delivery process. These superstitions extend to affect the community’s daily life, where they would follow superstitious beliefs to cease working on the harvesting crops in the event of a death in the family. In this case, the critical moments of one’s kin’s death highlighted the cultural beliefs held on firmly by the society.

Hence, in this society with “marriage residence rules”, women who marry within their community remains within the context of a developing world in Southeast Asia, and cultural and traditional beliefs/superstitions is dependent on close inter-generational kinship and the adhering to socially accepted roles and regulations of the Hanunoo community.

The primary ordering factor for kinship seems to be the agricultural setting of the community. The point of discussion is would be, how superstition managed to reproduce itself across generations to influence cultural practices, and whether it applies to similar agrarian societies as well.

Kathleen Adams and Kathleen Gillogly, eds. (2011) Everyday Life in Southeast Asia

Richard B. Lee (2012) The Dobe Ju/’hoansi (4th Edition)

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