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Marriage and household : btsisi? response to a changing world (malaysia)

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Nowak, Barbara S
Broad Subject History
Summary This dissertation, based on two years field research, is a study of women and men in marriage and the household, among Btsisi?, an indigenous people of Malaysia. The Btsisi? wedding ceremony, modeled after a traditional Malay ceremony, is very elaborate and unique for indigenous peoples of Malaysia, whose marriages are noted for their simplicity. The Malay-like ceremony poses the question as to whether Btsisi? gender relations are egalitarian like other indigenous Peninsula people or like the more patriarchical Malays.

The first two chapters provide an overview of the ecology, history and social structure of Btsisi?.

The third chapter describes the three day wedding ceremony. The inclusion of ethnological material helps to place the cermony in context. I argue that although the ceremony, on the surface, looks like its Malay counterpart, Btsisi? balance out the asymmetric male bias found in the Malay ceremony.

The investment of a family's time and money in the ceremony mean that they as well as the couple have an interest in who their children marry. Chapter 4 describes how Btsisi? arrange marriages and to whom.

Chapter 5 describes the conjugal couple with emphasis on the relations between husband and wife.

The following two chapters describe the married couple in the context of the household they jointly form. Chapter 6 describes the developmental cycle of the household and Chapter 7 describes the economic organization of the household. Included in this section is a discussion of the both the presecriped sexual division of labor and how husbands and wives actually organize household labor.

Chapters 8 and 9 provide a discussion of the household and couple within the wider social community. In the final chapter (9) I conclude that Btsisi?, who have been in contact with neighboring peoples, have up to now been able to maintain an egalitarian relationship between men and women, but with continuing pressures of "modernization" and an encroaching modern nation state, egalitarian gender relations is under threat.

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