Vlatka Škender


Amish social organization; kinship; affinity; descent; inheritance system; cosmology; ethnography; holism; structuralism; Louis Dumont


Kinship as a social anthropological category, with its three fundamentals – affinity, descent, and siblingship – denotes an orderly system of social relationships past, present, and future, through which a social system is composed and reproduced. What rules, if any, regulate marriage alliance among the Amish? Why are both affinal and consanguineal relationships structurally subordinated to that of fictive kinship? Building on and reexamining the extant anthropological discourse concerning the Amish kinship organization, a comparative-diachronic analysis of courtship, marriage, descent, inheritance, and residential patterns in a holistic and alliance-focused social system is provided. The article contributes an analysis of social-cosmological precepts governing the Amish kinship structure and reaffirms Mook and Hostetler’s (1957) premise on patrilineal ultimogeniture, Hurd’s (1985b) assertion on the absence of prescriptive marriage rules, and Huntington’s (1988) argument on preferential affinal alliance. [Abstract by author]


I thank Dr. Cory Anderson for his enthusiastic support and valuable contributions to the realization of this paper. The idea of (re)examining the Amish kinship system and constructing a sound analytical kinship model has permeated our yearlong Erasmian exchange of correspondence. Dr. Anderson had supplied the ethnographic data pertaining to the kinship terminology from the Old Order Amish in Ohio; we thank the informants for their benefaction.



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