REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT ALLOW FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MATRIARCHAL SOCIETIES: A CASE STUDY OF THE MINANGKABAU, MOSUO AND NAVAJO

Open Access
Author:
Wall, Sara Diana
Area of Honors:
Anthropology
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Rebecca Bliege Bird, Thesis Supervisor
  • Timothy Ryan, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Matrilineal societies
  • Minangkabau
  • Western Sumatra
  • Mosuo
  • China
  • Navajo
  • Anthropology
Abstract:
Matrilineal societies, those based on kinship with the mother or the female line, continue to endure in a changing world. This thesis uses a comparative case study of the Minangkabau in Western Sumatra, Indonesia; the Mosuo in China; and the Navajo of North America to explore the social, cultural, and economic conditions that favor matrilineality. In such societies, although complete female dominance is not practiced, women exert considerable influence and retain many family assets that are bequeathed to daughters. Here, I review and analyze scholarly literature on the subject of matrilineal societies, predominantly in Western Sumatra, to determine the characteristics and circumstances that lead to the development of matrilineal societies. The implications of these findings are far-reaching, challenging our preconceptions of the inevitability of male dominance and gender inequality. Understanding the development of matrilineal societies, the social and economic roles that women play, and how women are treated can help us to better recognize how to foster equality at home and in the workplace.