Kin on the Wing: patterns in residence, mobility, and alliance for Ache hunter-gatherers

Kin on the Wing: padrões de residência, mobilidade e aliança no grupo de caçadores-coletores Achê

Warren Thompson About the author


This paper provides a structural and historical overview of the kinship of a group of Tupi-Guarani-speaking hunter-gatherers, the Ache (Guayaki) of eastern Paraguay. I begin by considering the distinguishing features of Ache kin terminology, describing its characteristic tension between the dimensions of generation and crossness, before considering arguments for historical transformations offered for similar cases in lowland South America. The Ache case shows that the “Hawaiianization” of terms in ego’s generation does not necessarily entail an inward-looking endogamy, as some anthropologists (Dole, 1969; Wagley, 1977) have argued. By describing the network of Ache foraging bands as a residence-based form of kin organization, I show that “Hawaiianization” is not only perfectly compatible with the creation of alliances over considerable distances (Asch, 1998; Ives, 1998; Hornborg, 1998), but that “Hawaiianization” and distant marriage actually work together in the production of band alliances. At various points I highlight semantic, ethnographic, and historical data which, despite lying outside the scope of the phylogenetic analysis undertaken in other contributions to this issue, may nonetheless bear on some of its claims.

Kinship; Bifurcate generational; Hunters and gatherers; Residence; Alliance

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