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Mistress, Concubine, Spouse, Lover or Paramour? The Need for a Cross-Culturally Valid Definition of Marriage

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

Abstract

Alliance theory, which is a native model in France, cannot be used for an exotopy of French monogamy. Descent theory, a hallmark of British anthropology, is selected as a heuristic tool to exoticize that matrimonial system. We borrow from Kathleen Gough a definition of marriage well located within descent theory. This definition, which attempts to be universally valid, defines marriage as a relationship between a woman and one or more persons that provides full birth-status rights to a child born to the woman. It has complex ramifications, to which this chapter is devoted, in particular the impossibility of a cross-culturally valid definition to include reciprocal rights between spouses as the defining benchmarks of a marriage. That marriage is to be defined by the birth-status rights of a progeny may seem odd, but French law about a child born out of an incestuous liaison confirms the relevance of Gough’s main criteria; it imposes acknowledgment of the child by only one of the two parents, depriving the child of full birth-status rights and thus prohibiting the incestuous liaison to be transfigured into a marriage. Gay activists are also fully aware of the connection between birth-status and marriage; they demand marriage rights that allow them to co-adopt a child so that the latter has two legal parents and, as a consequence, full-birth status rights. In the next chapter we analyze, in the light of Gough’s definition, the new birth-status rights given in France to nomarital children and their consequences on this country’s matrimonial options.

Keywords

Civil Code Heterosexual Couple Lesbian Couple Civil Union Male Homosexual Couple 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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