Book Reviews

E. Sidney Hartland, Alfred Nutt, Edward Clodd, Edward Brabrook, N. W. Thomas
1905 Folklore  
Professor Durkheim considered in an elaborate essay the social organisation of the Arunta and neighbouring tribes as disclosed in the first volume published by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. Con trary to the opinion of the distinguished explorers he argued that the original organisation was based, not as they thought upon what he called male filiation, or what is perhaps more usually called in this country Father-right, the reckoning of kinship through the father only, but upon female filiation,
more » ... female filiation, or Mother-right, the reckon ing of kinship through the mother only. Further, he held that the two fundamental classes into which these tribes, as well as many others, are internally divided, and which he calls phratries, were originally totem-clans; and that the change from mother-right to father-right by the central tribes was deliberately effected by the transfer from each of the phratries to the other of one of the two sub-classes. 1 Such a change, it may be observed, could only have been effected if the primitive character of the phratries as 1 1 am not quite sure whether this was in M. Durlcheim's opinion a de liberate arrangement, since he seems to protest, in words quoted by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, that "the phratries are too closely bound up with the whole moral organisation of these tribes to admit of being arranged or dis- Reviews. or tribe consists of two phratries, each composed of two classes, forming thus two pairs of classes having the right of connubium. These may be represented as A and Ai on the one side, and B and Bt on the other side, so that A would have connubium only with B, and Ai only with Bi. The class Ai would consist of the children of the class A and the class Bi of the children of B. In consequence of the prohibition, connubium with the forbidden classes would be regarded with aversion, as contrary to tribal usage, and ultimately doubtless with horror, as unnatural By the hypothesis descent is traced in the first instance through the mother only. Class A would thus con sist of the mothers of class Ai and their brothers and sisters, giving those terms the wide extension usual in the tribes in question, and class B would consist of the mothers of class Bi and their brothers and sisters. But the men of class A (the brothers of the mothers of class Ai) would be the fathers of class Bi; and vice versa the men of class B would be the fathers of class Ai. Suppose, further, that by some revolution, the causes of which need not detain us, descent began to be traced in the male instead of the female line. The children of the women of class A would then form class Bi, as being the children of the men of class B; and the children of the women of rla<}« B would be class Ai, as being the children of the men of class A. If the revolution were complete, there would be no difficulty about the children of the women of class A and the men of class B continuing to marry the children of the women of class B and the men of class A. But there is the influence of the ideas and feelings generated by the prohibitions and practices of countless generations to reckon with. Among the institutions of the society supposed is that of totemism. The men of class A (or some of them at any rate) and their children under paternal descent, would bear the totem of any given woman of the class. Although the children of that woman under paternal descent would not bear the same totem, yet they would continue to lie under the prohibition to many in their mother's totem, and would regard with horror, as incest, the possibility of doing so, until the influence of the ideas and feelings just referred to had Downloaded by [New York University] at 15:41 16 May 2015
doi:10.1080/0015587x.1905.9719980 fatcat:w3nkevnowrh3jclhkfdj6oo22q