5.1 Lila Abu-Lughod – Patrilineality

How do the stories in this chapter engage with the anthropological assumptions about “patrilineality.” In what ways is patrilineality practiced in this Bedouin community? In what ways it do the stories of the chapter challenge the assumptions about how patrilineality is practiced?

4 thoughts on “5.1 Lila Abu-Lughod – Patrilineality

  1. The Bedouin society is patrilineal because when girls get married, they go to live with their husband’s families. Sometimes this results in them rarely seeing their own families anymore if their husbands live far away. Otherwise, kin stay close to each other and all live within the same proximity. Although producing a large family is a huge accomplishment either way, they prefer the birth of boys to girls. When boys are born, sheep are slaughtered and people celebrate. Migdim explained why families preferred sons by saying, “Daughters aren’t yours. When they marry, that’s it. They stay with their families and that’s that. They leave you with nothing. But boys, they stay.” Although later she stated, “They are equal with god and he even prefers girls. It is only the ignorant that prefer boys. Some daughters are worth a hundred sons”. She also mentions that she couldn’t live without her daughters showing that they still maintain relationships.
    People in their society typically think women need men to take care of them though whether that is a father, husband, or sons. Women and girls typically don’t have a say over who they marry either. Especially when they are young, these marriages are often arranged by the men in their families. There are circumstances where the women will refuse though and test the limits to this patrilineal society. Midgim was supposed to marry three different times and protested by throwing bowls of fresh food and going to bed without eating until finally these weddings were called off. She is a powerful figure throughout this book. She may have more freedom because her husband died and she didn’t remarry, but she is often standing up to her sons and objecting the way they live their lives. Also, although it seems as though males dominate in this society, women are still loved just as much as boys by their families and each family has their own individual circumstances for how they operate. Women seem to have the ability to be social and prove their intelligence.

    Like

  2. The Bedouin society is patrilineal because when girls get married, they go to live with their husbands’ families. Sometimes this results in them rarely seeing their own families anymore if their husbands live far away. Otherwise, kin stay close to each other and all live within the same proximity. Although producing a large family is a huge accomplishment either way, they prefer the birth of boys to girls. When boys are born, sheep are slaughtered and people celebrate. Migdim explained why families preferred sons by saying, “Daughters aren’t yours. When they marry, that’s it. They stay with their families and that’s that. They leave you with nothing. But boys, they stay.” Although later she stated, “They are equal with god and he even prefers girls. It is only the ignorant that prefer boys. Some daughters are worth a hundred sons”. She also mentions that she couldn’t live without her daughters showing that they still maintain relationships.
    People in their society typically think women need men to take care of them though whether that is a father, husband, or sons. Women and girls typically don’t have a say over who they marry either. Especially when they are young, these marriages are often arranged by the men in their families. There are circumstances where the women will refuse though and test the limits to this patrilineal society. Midgim was supposed to marry three different times and protested by throwing bowls of fresh food and going to bed without eating until finally these weddings were called off. She is a powerful figure throughout this book. She may have more freedom because her husband died and she didn’t remarry, but she is often standing up to her sons and objecting the way they live their lives. Also, although it seems as though males dominate in this society, women are still loved just as much as boys by their families and each family has their own individual circumstances for how they operate. Women seem to have the ability to be social and prove their intelligence.

    Like

  3. I think that these stories present underlying hints of patrilineality throughout. Most commonly, I noticed when they mention others by relation to kinsmen. They address the main man’s name of that family and the relation to the man, Eg. Haj Sagr’s daughter. We also see patrilineality described in the way Migdim talks about her sons. It is stated how the sons make the decisions for the camp and often times Migdim is consulted but isn’t always listened to. This angers Migdim as she obviously holds her word as being the wisest. It is assumed that a woman is not valued in such society, however Migdim share’s that she is often anger at her sons for the way they treat their wives. She verbalizes this to the boys, whether they take her word or just think of it as a slap on the wrist is completely situationally. Many things Migdim speaks on she often contradicts later on. This shows her struggle with following traditional norms and her stance on being a valued, and respected woman. We also see challenged assumptions of patrilineality practice in the disagreement of land. At first it is described strictly as a land disagreement, but as Migdim speaks on it more, we see that it is a matter that concern’s all of the women and how they act on the camp and the roles they play. In this instants, the sons are almost playing as a mediator between the women, trying to please them all. The question I ask, is do you think that patrilineality has conditioned sons and daughters to respect/value their mothers and fathers differently? How do you think it is different between sons and daughters?
    -AnnMarie

    Like

  4. In Chapter 1 of ‘Writing Women’s Worlds’, Lila Abu-Lughod describes to the reader the effects of patrilineality among the Awlad ‘Ali, from the anthropological perspective, by tracking it back to Migdim’s father, who was the patriarch of her family. Once Migdim was married off to her husband, Jawwad, she entered into another man’s household into which she was expected to obey and honor his wishes like she had her father’s. However, when her husband died at a young age, she did not get to take over the family household, instead passing that title to her eldest son, Haj Sagr. Through this timeline setup by the author, we can see a long line of patriarchal control and ruling being centered on the male line of the families. This is reinforced by Migdim’s own words that “girls are not theirs” and “boys stay” referring to the fact that families are built around the male line and the females are married off to their husbands with whom they live usually. The men of the family are able to make decisions for the rest of the family without consideration or communication with that person; especially the women and their arranged marriages, usually to their first cousins and in which they have very little say. Though Migdim’s sons will sometimes consult with her as she is the eldest person in the “camp”, they are not bound to follow her advice or even her demands, as shown by the story of them giving the land to the neighbor when she explicitly told them not to. Though the women of the Bedouin’s have little freedom in what to do with their lives, they do have a strong sense of community among the womenfolk in the Awlad ‘Ali that provides them with a secret support system. Migdim has confessed that she has talked to her son’s for her daughter-in-law’s many times when she believe that they are being mistreated and Migdim also has no qualms with insisting that her son’s do as she wishes even though they have no such obligation. There are other small instances of resistances to this patriarchal rule as seen in the attempts of the young girls to get out of their arranged marriages by running away, not eating, getting themselves filthy, and other dramatic tactics just to persuade their fathers to not force them into the marriage, showing great courage. The stories that challenge that assumptions about the way which patrilineality is practiced within this community are the ones about the other wives of Migdim’s sons, as the older generation would usually only have one wife. It was not a typical thing for the men to do in the past, marrying more than one wife, and yet the new generation, Migdim’s sons and other rich young men, are finding themselves more than just their first-cousin wives. This is also something that Migdim comments on, insisting “that in her day it had been rare for men to have more than one wife.” These young men have felt it necessary to change the way the Awlad ‘Ali had traditionally done their family structures in order to have these superfluous, additional units. While the Egyptian government forced them to change how they operated and used their land in order to keep it and, in some cases, buy back their own land, they willingly chose to change their own infrastructure of the community by having multiple wives and not at all with consideration to their current family members.

    Like

Leave a Reply to aw908515 Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s