Kinship, friendship and gender relations in two east Aegean village communities (Lesbos, Greece).
PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
This thesis is concerned with the ways in which kinship and friendship are informed by cultural notions of gender in two villages of Northern Lesbos (East Aegean region of Greece) and it falls into four parts. It begins with a discussion of marriage and the creation of the domestic group, it moves on to consider relations in the predominantly female realm of house and neighbourhood and concludes with an examination of the social and cultural configurations present in the exclusively male domain of the coffeeshop and the village community at large. In the introductory chapter I briefly discuss the socio-economic and demographic context in a historical perspective. The analysis of informal courtship, match-making and dowering and the process of marriage more generally forms the focus of part one. Here it is shown that the religiously sanctioned ideal of the bilateral household (which is based on gender complementarity) is administered primarily by
women and exhibits a matrilateral emphasis. This point is fully explored in part two where it is demonstrated that while men, especially those of low status, are domestically
marginal, their wives in their maternal role dominate kin-based and mutually antagonistic networks of women. A close examination of the fragmented nature of male kinship and the content of affinity and neighbourship further confirms the centrality of women to kinship. The third part begins with an extensive discussion of the code of commensality and the drinking patterns it supports, the cycle of participation in different categories of coffeeshop and the symbolism of drinks. An analysis of male commensal friendship and the more asymmetric ties that arise in competitive drinking and gambling gives us the clues to understanding notions of gender that are specific to the coffeeshop and opposed to corresponding notions that arise in the context of the household. Finally the concluding part examines the values of individual personhood and 'belonging' in local society and assesses the contrast between two notions of the village and their implications for political behaviour.
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