© 2014

Mainstream Polygamy

The Non-Marital Child Paradox In The West


  • Examines monogamy in Western cultures with a critical eye

  • Includes non-Western perspectives

  • Contextualizes the study of monogamy in the larger field of anthropology and anthropological methods and ethics


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Anthropology book series (BRIEFSANTHRO, volume 2)

Also part of the Springerbriefs in Anthropology and Ethics book sub series (AAE, volume 2)

About this book


This volume explores the forms of knowledge generated by exoticizing the subject studied. It analyzes monogamy in Western cultures from a cultural distance. First, from the cultural perspective of a Kenyan writer who underlines the moral evils unwittingly generated by a system imposing universal monogamy and generating annual cohorts of illegitimate children. Then, the essay considers the case of France, which, starting in the 1970’s, changed its laws regarding children born out of wedlock. Such children have now become legitimate. Unwittingly, this has allowed for polygyny or polyandry to become legal options for French males and females. The analysis is further extended to Western Europe, two Latin American nations and to the contemporary U.S.A. with its polyamory movement, where legal outcomes similar to those of France have occurred.

The volume examines monogamy by using the epistemological approach that is typically used in the anthropological study of cultures other than one’s own, showing how exotic and strange the system of monogamy can look, when observed from afar, from the eyes of many non-Westerners. It gives insight into planes of the human Western experience that would normally remain invisible. Students and teachers will delight in the close-to-home debates stimulated by this evocative thought-provoking essay.


African polygamy and Western polygamy anthropology and postmodernism cultural understandings of matrimony new forms of marriage in Western society polygamous marriages in Western Culture sociology of marriage

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

About the authors

Dominique Legros is a professor of anthropology emeritus at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He graduated from the University of Paris X (M.A.) and from the University of British Columbia, Canada (Ph.D.). Since 1972, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Yukon Territory among the Northern Tutchone Athapaskan Indians. He is the author numerous articles and of several books; among them Tommy McGinty's Northern Tutchone Story of Crow: A First Nation Elder Recounts the Creation of the World. Canadian Museum of Civilisation; Oral History as History: Tutchone Athapaskan in the Period 1840-1920. Hudę Hudän Series, Yukon History No. 3. Yukon, 2 vols. He has been a president of the Canadian Anthropology Society.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Mainstream Polygamy
  • Book Subtitle The Non-Marital Child Paradox In The West
  • Authors Dominique Legros
  • Series Title SpringerBriefs in Anthropology
  • Series Abbreviated Title SpringerBriefs in Anthropology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science Behavioral Science and Psychology (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-4614-8306-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4614-8307-6
  • Series ISSN 2195-0806
  • Series E-ISSN 2195-0814
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 113
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Anthropology
    Sociology, general
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