Tuareg Kinship1


  • 1

    The research upon which this article is based was conducted in 1959–60 with the primary support of a Faculty Research Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council and a Foreign Area Fellowship granted by the Ford Foundation. A shorter and quite different version of the paper was read at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Detroit in November 1964. I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the suggestions and criticisms offered at the time and on other occasions by Drs. Floyd Lounsbury and David Schneider. Dr. Marvin Harris read a draft of the present contribution, and I am indebted to him for his helpful commentary.


The assumption that a positive congruence exists between social structure and kinship terminology is questioned, and an alternate hypothesis offered that kinship terms may be a contradiction of the social system and a transformation of it on the cultural level. Tuareg kinship terminology is analyzed in relationship to the social system, and a discontinuity is found between the Iroquois terminology and kingroup endogamy, including a preference for all forms of cousin marriage. These data indicate that a relationship between the structure of interaction and the informants' verbal model of the kinship system does exist, but that the kin terms negate and reorder the social system rather than affirm it.