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  1. page spto2 edited Libby Jones Final Paper Anthropology 103 23 April 2013 The Role of Women in Minangkabau Societ…
    Libby Jones
    Final Paper
    Anthropology 103
    23 April 2013
    The Role of Women in Minangkabau Society
    While deciding which topic I would like to specialize in for this project on the Minangkabau society, I kept coming across articles that discussed the fact that the Minangkabau were a matrilineal society. Having studied a majority of cultures during this course with patrilineal descents, this immediately caught my attention. The gender roles of this culture certainly set it apart from the majority, especially because this type of unilineal descent would seem to conflict with the Minangkabau’s devout Muslim beliefs. The Minangkabau believe that because the past and future of the family depends on a women’s ability to produce children, women should always be respected and cared for. Because women are treasured in this society, couples often hope their first-born child is female because having daughters is seen as good fortune (Shapiro 2011).
    The Minangkabau, who are also sometimes known as the Minang, originally resided in the West Sumatra and Padang regions of Indonesia, even though their population is now more dispersed throughout Indonesia. The Minangkabau are the fourth largest ethnic group in Indonesia, with a current population of a little over six million people. The Minangkabau population is almost entirely Muslim and they speak their own Minang language. The name “Minangkabau” literally translates to “winning water buffalo”. This name comes from the ancient wartime tradition of water buffalo fighting. The Minangkabau chose a starving calf to represent them a fight, which was able to kill its opponent, who was a large, Javanese champion buffalo. Remnants of this ancient tradition are still visible in Minangkabau culture today. The water buffalo has influenced Minang architecture and can be seen in the horn-shaped structures on roofs (Lewis 2013).
    It is important to distinguish between three terms that we’ve talked about in this course which are relevant to this topic before further investigation. These three terms are matrilineal, matriarchal, and matrilocal. A matrilineal descent means that descent is traced through the women only. So, according to this definition, the Minangkabau would be classified as a matrilineal society and actually one of the largest societies in the world. In the case of the Minangkabau, this means that land, property, and family name are passed down the female line. Matriarchal, if taken to mean the opposite of patriarchal, would mean a political system ruled by women, so in this sense the Minangkabau don’t have an actual matriarchy even though women do play a very important role in the decision making process. Some anthropologists have said that their society is close to a matriarchy but not technically so, because it is not the equivalent of male rule. This culture is also matrilocal, because shortly after a Minangkabau coupe marry, the man collects his things from his home and moves in with the woman and her family (Kottak 2013:214).
    Although the Minangkabau are a matrilineal society, they do still share some more traditional gender roles. Women tend to be in charge of domestic affairs and raising the children while men tend to hold positions of religious and political power. The main difference between the Minangkabau and the majority of other patrilineal society is the way that each gender values the other. A Minangkabau man in one article described the gender balance in his society as two sides of a coin (Shapiro 2011). One gender, and their traditionally assigned duties, is not valued over the other gender’s duties. A main focus of Minangkabau gender politics is the importance of consensus (Kottak 2013). Although the figurehead or the “front” of the family is the senior male, senior women also hold an important symbolic role. Women have the power to make everyday decisions on their own and in more formal discussions, disputes, or ceremonies, men usually lead the conversations but don’t make decisions without consulting the women first and then making a joint decision. Consequently, in this society, people who promote consensus and equality are more valued than people who fight to gain personal power (Shapiro 2011).Because the women are in charge of the property and land of a family, which in the traditional sense would be mostly the family home and rice paddy, they are also responsible for the finances and the women actually make the decisions about what the family is going to buy. I also learned that in this matrilineal society, despite the somewhat uncommon gender relations, domestic violence does still occur (Shapiro 2011).
    The Minangkabau have worked to fit their matrilineal descent in with their Muslim beliefs. Adat is the general term for the traditions that existed amongst the Minangkabau before the arrival of Islam to Sumatra. The adat, which comes from Hindu beliefs, was responsible for the emphasis on gender equality and matrilineal descent in Minangkabau society. To fit adat in with their strict Muslim beliefs, the Minangkabau divided their inheritance into two distinct groups: low inheritance and high inheritance. The high inheritance is the property that is passed down the female line, which protects the traditions of adat. The low inheritance is money passed down the male line, which protects the strict Islamic tradition (Shapiro 2011).
    More recently some of these gender roles are becoming less rigid amongst the Minangkabau. This is because the nuclear family is becoming more important than the traditional extended family in their culture. The increasing significance of smaller family sizes is a trend that can be seen in many places around the world today, including the United States. Even though the traditional gender roles are changing due to globalization and urbanization, the Minangkabau’s unique matrilineal structure and their ability to make that work with their Muslim beliefs make them a very unique society who still catch the attention of many anthropologists around the world.
    Bibliography
    Kottak, Conrad P.
    2013 Cultural Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
    Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig
    2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth Edition. Electronic document, http://www.ethnologue.com/language/min, accessed April 23, 2013.
    Shapiro, Danielle
    2011 Islam’s Secret Feminists. The Daily Beast, September 4. [Online]. Available: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/09/04/indonesia-s- minangkabau-the-world-s-largest-matrilineal-society.html. Accessed: April 28, 2013.

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Sunday, April 28

  1. page spto1 edited ... Libby's Paper Erin's Paper Erin Brennan Professor Hill Introduction to Anthropology 29 A…
    ...
    Libby's Paper
    Erin's Paper
    Erin Brennan
    Professor Hill
    Introduction to Anthropology
    29 April 2013
    Environmental Issues among the Minankabau
    Minangkabau are a people who value landholding as one of the crucial functions of their lineage system. The kin group from the mother’s side of the family is responsible for the distribution of land that is inherited (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Minankabau:1) The geological resources on these lands have been and continue to be exploited (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia- Minankabau:1).
    There is an abundant shoreline in Indonesia, and most people make their livelihood from fishing. Starting in 1970’s however, Indonesia saw a decline in fish stock due to contamination coastal waters (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). The use of agricultural pesticides is not monitored and off-shore oil drilling is a common practice. Effluents from fertilizers and supertanker accidents have polluted the waters of the fragile Sumatran strait (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). Overfishing has also become a problem. Although “floating factory” fishing boats were restricted in Indonesia in 1982, the increasingly improved technology has aided fishermen in their fishing attempts, which threatens not only the fish in Indonesian waters, but the total fish supply as well (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1).
    Agriculture is the main way of life for the Minangkabau people. Unfortunately, the combination of heavy foresting and the slash-and-burn agricultural techniques that are commonly used by the Minankabau depletes the land of its fertility. Because of the focus on agriculture, soil erosion, river-bed siltation, and water pollution are common problems. Soil erosion caused by deforestation intensifies the problem of siltation (Causes and Effects of Deforestation: 1). Siltation is a process by which water becomes polluted by sediment, silt or other fine mineral particles suspended in the water (Your Dictionary: 1). Silt deposits from water sources such as ponds and streams are carried from the inland waters downstream into the sea. In the sea they cover and kill coral reefs, create mangrove thickets, and make harbor access difficult for ships (Causes and Effects of Deforestation: 1). Dredging operations are needed to make the harbors accessible. These operations are expensive and elaborate (Causes and Effects of Deforestation:1).
    Deforestation is also a major concern in the Minangkabau culture. In 2000 and 2005, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimate that 1,87million hectors of forest are lost every year in Indonesia (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). This is equal to 9,36 million hectare in a five year period, which would cover an area the size of Portugal(Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). This not only impacts the livelihoods of the forest people who are unable to use their timber resources, but it also means habitat loss for endangered species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros and orangutans (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). There is also the impact of a loss of revenue for local and central governments. The reason that there is so much deforestation is that the global demand for wood pulp and palm oil is high which results in tree clearing for plantations (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). More than 3.5 million people work in the sub-sector in Indonesia and it is a major source of income (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Some plantations are constructed in areas of high conservation value forests where there is a complete loss of forest ecological function and local people suffer from loss of socioecological benefits. There is also a high global demand for timber (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). And about 80% of this timber produced from Indonesia is thought to stem from illegal logging (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1).
    Not only are the habitats of the animals of Indonesia being exploited but the animals themselves are also at risk (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Between 1985 and 1990 about 1,000 orangutans may have been imported to Taiwan for pet trade (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Additionally the endangered humphead wrasse has been illegally exported to high end restaurants as it is considered a delicacy in Indonesian cuisine. Other species of animals are traded for natural medicines or for decorative objects (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1).
    National and local governments seem to be aware of these environmental issues, yet with the growing economy and increase in demand for food there is a lack of balance between industry and environmental protection (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). It seems that many sacrifices are made to meet the imminent needs of people without concern for the effects of these sacrifices or their effect on the future. When resources are depleted or when animals go extinct there is nothing we can do to render those problems. Preventative precautions and being aware of our impact is the only way to ensure the health of the environment. One of my favorite quotes is a Native American saying that goes,
    “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”
    Hopefully these environmental issues can be rendered soon to protect the valuable resources among the Minankabau people of Indonesia so that both themselves and their environment can be preserved and continue to thrive.
    Works Cited
    Mongabay Environmental News, “Indonesia-Environmental Concerns”, accessed April 29th, 2013,
    http://www.mongabay.com/history/indonesia/indonesia-environmental_concerns.html
    Mongabay Environmental News, “Indonesia-Minankabau”, accessed April 29th, 2013,
    http://www.mongabay.com/history/indonesia/indonesia-minangkabau.html
    “Environmental Issues in Indonesia”, accessed April 29th, 2013,
    http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/indonesia/environmental_problems_indonesia/
    “Causes and Effects of Deforestation”, accessed April 29th, 2013,
    http://www.buzzle.com/articles/causes-and-effects-of-deforestation.html
    Your Dictionary, “Siltation”, accessed April 29th , 2013,
    http://www.yourdictionary.com/siltation

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  2. page space.blankTeamFrontPage edited Erin's Paper Erin Brennan

    Erin's Paper
    Erin Brennan
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  3. page space.blankTeamFrontPage edited Erin's Paper Erin Brennan Anthropology 104 Professor Hill April 29 2013 Environmental Issu…

    Erin's Paper
    Erin Brennan
    Anthropology 104
    Professor Hill
    April 29 2013
    Environmental Issues among the Minankabau
    Minangkabau are a people who value landholding as one of the crucial functions of their lineage system. The kin group from the mother’s side of the family is responsible for the distribution of land that is inherited (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Minankabau:1) The geological resources on these lands have been and continue to be exploited (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia- Minankabau:1).
    There is an abundant shoreline in Indonesia, and most people make their livelihood from fishing. Starting in 1970’s however, Indonesia saw a decline in fish stock due to contamination coastal waters (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). The use of agricultural pesticides is not monitored and off-shore oil drilling is a common practice. Effluents from fertilizers and supertanker accidents have polluted the waters of the fragile Sumatran strait (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). Overfishing has also become a problem. Although “floating factory” fishing boats were restricted in Indonesia in 1982, the increasingly improved technology has aided fishermen in their fishing attempts, which threatens not only the fish in Indonesian waters, but the total fish supply as well (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1).
    Agriculture is the main way of life for the Minangkabau people. Unfortunately, the combination of heavy foresting and the slash-and-burn agricultural techniques that are commonly used by the Minankabau depletes the land of its fertility. Because of the focus on agriculture, soil erosion, river-bed siltation, and water pollution are common problems. Soil erosion caused by deforestation intensifies the problem of siltation (Causes and Effects of Deforestation: 1). Siltation is a process by which water becomes polluted by sediment, silt or other fine mineral particles suspended in the water (Your Dictionary: 1). Silt deposits from water sources such as ponds and streams are carried from the inland waters downstream into the sea. In the sea they cover and kill coral reefs, create mangrove thickets, and make harbor access difficult for ships (Causes and Effects of Deforestation: 1). Dredging operations are needed to make the harbors accessible. These operations are expensive and elaborate (Causes and Effects of Deforestation:1).
    Deforestation is also a major concern in the Minangkabau culture. In 2000 and 2005, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimate that 1,87million hectors of forest are lost every year in Indonesia (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). This is equal to 9,36 million hectare in a five year period, which would cover an area the size of Portugal(Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). This not only impacts the livelihoods of the forest people who are unable to use their timber resources, but it also means habitat loss for endangered species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros and orangutans (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). There is also the impact of a loss of revenue for local and central governments. The reason that there is so much deforestation is that the global demand for wood pulp and palm oil is high which results in tree clearing for plantations (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). More than 3.5 million people work in the sub-sector in Indonesia and it is a major source of income (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Some plantations are constructed in areas of high conservation value forests where there is a complete loss of forest ecological function and local people suffer from loss of socioecological benefits. There is also a high global demand for timber (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). And about 80% of this timber produced from Indonesia is thought to stem from illegal logging (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1).
    Not only are the habitats of the animals of Indonesia being exploited but the animals themselves are also at risk (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Between 1985 and 1990 about 1,000 orangutans may have been imported to Taiwan for pet trade (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1). Additionally the endangered humphead wrasse has been illegally exported to high end restaurants as it is considered a delicacy in Indonesian cuisine. Other species of animals are traded for natural medicines or for decorative objects (Environmental Problems in Indonesia:1).
    National and local governments seem to be aware of these environmental issues, yet with the growing economy and increase in demand for food there is a lack of balance between industry and environmental protection (Mongabay Environmental News, Indonesia-Environmental Concerns:1). It seems that many sacrifices are made to meet the imminent needs of people without concern for the effects of these sacrifices or their effect on the future. When resources are depleted or when animals go extinct there is nothing we can do to render those problems. Preventative precautions and being aware of our impact is the only way to ensure the health of the environment. One of my favorite quotes is a Native American saying that goes,
    “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”
    Hopefully these environmental issues can be rendered soon to protect the valuable resources among the Minankabau people of Indonesia so that both themselves and their environment can be preserved and continue to thrive.

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    10:00 pm
  4. page Special topics edited ... of the Minangkabau Abby MinangkabauAbby Dworkin-Brodsky Each culture has traditions that…
    ...
    of the Minangkabau
    Abby
    MinangkabauAbby Dworkin-Brodsky
    Each culture has traditions that are specific to the people of that culture. Americans celebrate “coming of age” (depending on the religion) with communions or bat/bar mitzvahs. A twenty-one year old celebrates their eligibility to legally drink by going out to the bar on their 21st birthday. Marriages are celebrated with ceremonies, followed by receptions. The way Americans make traditions out of certain events says a lot about what is important to them and what type of events they want to commemorate.
    The Minangkabau are no different; they have their own rituals and traditions that enrich their culture and provide anthropologists with insight into what is important to them. Though the ideas behind the traditions and rituals may be the same as with Americans, the way these traditions are performed leads to the differences amongst cultures.
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  5. page Special topics edited Check Traditions of the Minangkabau Abby Dworkin-Brodsky Each culture has traditions that are s…
    CheckTraditions of the Minangkabau
    Abby Dworkin-Brodsky
    Each culture has traditions that are specific to the people of that culture. Americans celebrate “coming of age” (depending on the religion) with communions or bat/bar mitzvahs. A twenty-one year old celebrates their eligibility to legally drink by going
    out to the bar on their 21st birthday. Marriages are celebrated with ceremonies, followed by receptions. The way Americans make traditions out of certain events says a lot about what is important to them and what type of events they want to commemorate.
    The Minangkabau are no different; they have their own rituals and traditions that enrich their culture and provide anthropologists with insight into what is important to them. Though the ideas behind the traditions and rituals may be the same as with Americans, the way these traditions are performed leads to the differences amongst cultures.
    One of the first traditions a member of the Minangkabau society will go through is the Turun Mandi (the baby blessing ceremony). Translated into English,
    this means “going down to bathe.” A newborn does not leave the house until this ritual is performed, usually at about the age of three months, which is meant to introduce the child to the world outside the home. Babies will be bathed by the father of the baby’s family (bako). A few of his or her hairs are cut and they are introduced to the tastes of white rice, salt, sugar and chili, which are meant to be symbols for the world. The Turun Mandi introduces newborns to the ideas that life can be bitter, sweet, salty and spicy and that each situation he or she encounters will probably be a combination of one of more in-depth analyses of special topics!those flavors (Sandiwara).
    The baby blessing ceremony can be related to a christening in parts of American culture. Though American babies are allowed to leave their homes before this ceremony occurs, it is also a way of bringing them into a religion as well as into the world. Babies are blessed with holy water, like the bathing of the baby in the Minangkabau culture. It is a ritual that welcomes a newborn into the religion.
    Because the Minangkabau culture is matrilineal, a lot of the wedding ceremony focuses on the bride and her family (Anthropology and the Human Condition). Dress for the marriage ceremony is extremely elaborate for the bride and the groom, as well as their families. The ceremony begins with a procession of the bride’s family to the grooms house where a feast is held, followed by the offering of a payment in gifts to the elder males of the groom’s family from the bride’s family. After some negotiation, the basket is accepted and the bride and groom’s hands are tied together and all members process back to the bride’s mother’s house. The family of the bride is expected to contribute money and rice and if they do not, this is seen as rude (Anthropology and the Human Condition).
    This is vastly different from the wedding ceremony in the American culture. Only the bride’s parents are expected to pay for the wedding, but guests are expected to give gifts that may help cover some of the costs. Minangkabau ceremonies are less elaborate than that of Americans in that only a few people attend the actual Minangkabau wedding ceremony. Americans brides will invite hundreds of friends and family members to her wedding ceremony, as well as to the reception. The feast of the wedding ceremony is more important to the Minangkabau than the ceremony itself.
    The Tabuik is a traditional festival in West Sumatra, Indonesia that is held in the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is held locally amongst the Minangkabau as a manifestation of the Remembrance of Muharram (Tabuik). This remembrance marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala when the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a Shi Imam, was killed by the forces of the second Umayyad caliph Yazid I. Yazid I was the third Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate (which is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader) (Umayyad Caliphate). Majalis (gatherings) are held to honor the grandson’s sacrifice and the people display their mourning by beating on their chest with their hands (sineh-zani) or by incorporating knives, chains, swords, blades or razors (zanjeer-zani, qama-zani, etc.). Another form of mourning is in the form of a theatrical re-enactment of the Battle of Karbala (Remembrance of Muharram).
    The Tabuik are made from pieces of bamboo, paper and rattan and are extremely elaborate. On the 10th day of Muharram, a large crowd that includes dignitaries comes down to the beach to see the tabuiks before they are cast into the sea at noon (Tabuik).
    Americans do not have such elaborate ceremonies as the Tabuik that commemorate the death of a leader. Though we have holidays that are embedded into the culture to remember some of our greatest leaders, they are not as passionately celebrated as the Minangkabau ceremony that is akin to this.
    Another ceremony that the Minangkabau perform is the circumcision ceremony. When a boy is between ten or fourteen years old, he is put through the ceremonial circumcision. Just like the traditional wedding ceremony, it is not the ceremony that is the important part of the circumcision but the feast that follows. All families are expected to host at least one feast, no matter their financial status (Firth, 119). If they do not have a daughter to wed or a son to circumcise, then they must host a feast for a journey or something to that extent (Firth, 121).
    American culture does not hold a ceremony or anything of the like for a circumcision or for a similar procedure for women. It is something that is decided by the parents when a male is born and a simple procedure is performed in the hospital should the family decide they want to go through with it.
    The differences between American traditions and those of the Minangkabau can be seen in how similar events are celebrated and ritualized in both of the cultures. The Minangkabau, with their emphasis on a feast rather the ceremonial wedding or circumcision, find that it is much more important to announce ones wealth and stature to the community. Americans tend to focus on the event itself, ignoring money, showing their dedication to the event they are celebrating.

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