Gender Related Social Groups

All significant social institutions in Iatmul society are structured around males or females. When men and women form a single group, gender defines their respective social roles.

Village residence wards correspond to patrilineal groups, which are largely exogamous. Residence is typically patrilocal. Since Iatmul villages are endogamous, the proximity of natal kin reduces a bride's psychological distress when she relocates to her husband's residence ward. (Some men view the idea of living with affines to be shameful.) Generally, an extended patrilineal family inhabits the house. Men sleep near the central areas and entrances of the dwelling, while women (wives and unmarried daughters) reside along the periphery. This way, the Iatmul house, like the internal spaces of canoes, reflects the gendered spatial organization of the society.

Iatmul gender is also shaped by an opposition between what Bateson (1936/1958) called "patrilineal structure" and "maternal sentiment." Although descent is patrilineal, kinship is more fluid, with men and women using both male and female links to determine relationships. Larger kin groups and ritual moities tend to be patrilineal. But people do follow matrilateral "paths" when defining group affiliation for some ceremonies and prohibitions. There are no important, or formal, nonkin associations for either males or females.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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