Gender Roles in Economics

Males are fishermen, while women are engaged in root crop production. Although men cut and burn new gardens, afterwards it is the work of women to plant, weed, and harvest the crop daily. Since manioc (Manihot esculenta) can be left in the ground and harvested as needed, women collect it on a daily basis. The poisonous manioc planted by Tukanoan women must be thoroughly detoxified by means of extensive cooking in which the soluble prussic acid is eliminated. Women prepare the manioc into a variety of dips, soups, beverages, breads, and flour. The last procedure is laborious but the flour is light and does not spoil; it is used in journeys and may also be traded or sold to passers-by. (See C. Hugh-Jones [1979] for a thorough discussion of food processing.)

Garden work begins just after breakfast at dawn and continues into early afternoon. Preparing the harvested roots, served as bread and drink at sundown, may take up most of a woman's afternoon. Before serving dinner at sundown, she always bathes herself and her children.

Since the Tukanoans are patrilocal, a new wife receives her garden and her first manioc seedlings from her mother-in-law and the cowives of the new village into which she marries. When she visits her own birth village, she finds other manioc cultivars, and brings them back to distribute or trade among cowives (Chernela, 1986).

Men specialize in making baskets and carved wood items for domestic use and for trade. These differences in gender specializations are strongly adhered to. Each language group specializes in a single craft product, made by the men of the group, that will be formally circulated throughout the basin (Chernela, 1992). Among these objects are shaman's benches, manioc graters, sieves, and baskets.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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