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6851: RE: 6836: 6929: Sexuality /Haiti/Vodou (fwd)

From: Karen Davis <kdavis@marygrove.edu>

I want to thank Martine Jean for her perceptive comments.
I can verify her anthropological note that all of a woman's family become
"wife-status" to her husband in many Western African traditions, and a man's
family "husband-status" to his wife. This is one aspect of a very old (early
1900s? Late 1800s? Earlier?) generalization about the way we humans tend to
use kinship statuses & names to organize many or all social relationships.
In fact, at base, "kinship" IS a social relationship and not really a
biological relationship at all, or only secondarily.
I myself have experienced many times being bestowed a kinship status & even
a name of a respected deceased elder woman, by West African families, to
regulate or categorize the relationship. Since my husband is Haitian,
everyone I meet in Benin calls me either "wife" or "sister" (exceopt
children, who politely cay "auntie" or rudely "white."
It is (opnly) though kimnship that we give and receive gifts, so a gifting
relationship with spiritual entities are also framed in kinship terms, so I
am "mother" or "father" or "child" or "wife" of the lwa.
I want to especially recemmend  an excellent monograph on the themes Martine
Jean refers to--of white racism, inferred danger, white stereotypes, fear of
sexuality, AIDS, the lwa, and Haiti and Africanism/black-ness (despite the
title, MUCH on Haiti): 
Barbara Browning
Infecious Rhythm: Metaphors of contagion and the spread of African culture.
1998, NY: Routledge