Chapter 3. Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal

  1. Nicholas J. Allen Reader2,
  2. Hilary Callan Director3,
  3. Robin Dunbar Professor Director4 and
  4. Wendy James Professor Emeritus Fellow committed social anthropologist5
  1. Chris Knight Professor

Published Online: 30 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444302714.ch3

Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction

Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction

How to Cite

Knight, C. (2008) Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal, in Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction (eds N. J. Allen, H. Callan, R. Dunbar and W. James), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444302714.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Oxford, UK

  2. 3

    Royal Anthropological Institute, Great Britain

  3. 4

    University of Oxford, UK

  4. 5

    St Cross College, Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. University of East London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 6 JUN 2008

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405179010

Online ISBN: 9781444302714



  • women, children, men – and puzzles of comparative social structure;
  • early human kinship - matrilineal;
  • equivalence of siblings;
  • matrilineal clan;
  • Engels and ‘the origin of the family’;
  • Morgan's ideas, ‘group motherhood’ versus ideology of family;
  • Kwakiutl numaym groupings;
  • effect on palaeoanthropology;
  • kinship theory in crisis;
  • partible paternity


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Equivalence of Siblings

  • The Matrilineal Clan

  • Engels and ‘the Origin of the Family’

  • The Reaction

  • Group Motherhood Versus the Ideology of the Family

  • The Case of the Kwakiutl Indians

  • The Case of the Mother's Brother

  • The Effect on Palaeoanthropology

  • Morgan Revisited

  • Partible Paternity

  • Engels Revisited?

  • Kinship Theory in Crisis

  • Some Concluding Notes