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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Human Complex Systems



  • Author(s): McConvell, Patrick
  • et al.

This is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about Crow-Omaha and the overall approach to analysis of kinship systems.


That Omaha patterns can arise for different reasons in different societies is certainly a possibility, and it is good that Read presents here a comparison which claims to show that. I do agree with Read that a formal analysis is a necessary first step before continuing with an explanation of the causes of the specific form of kinship structure in a specific group. The key dichotomy proposed is that between Crow-Omaha as a direct consequence of an inherent generative logic and as resulting from a transformation of the terminology.The idea that there is a major difference between the causes of the two types is attractive but this conceptualisation of it is problematic. It implies that the Thonga-Ronga system is not due to a transformation, so perhaps has remained the same from a very ancient time. But no evidence bearing on this is offered, nor is it likely that no transformations have been at work.

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