The Sociality of Descent
This chapter examines the aspect of the person referred to as küpal, a term Mapuche people translate as “descent.” As well as being the vehicle for the transmission of certain physical and behavioral characteristics, it is the sharing of descent that is the basis for relations between patri-relatives. It is these relations of patrilineality between those who share descent that are paradigmatic of what can be called “sociality of descent.” Such a mode of sociality is characterized by obligatory mutual assistance, shared identity, and the potential for inequality. The chapter then suggests that a full understanding of the importance of descent helps in reconsidering the complex and flexible nature of Mapuche social aggregates—a long-standing problem in the relevant ethnographic literature.
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