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Nuptiality in Latin America

understand the recent situation however, we need to first delve into the past

because the practice of having different types of unions has historical roots.

including with the levirate (a man marrying the wi

dow of his de

ad brother).

Some groups considered sibling marriage taboo whil

e others saw

no problem with

it, at least among the elite (e.g. Bernand and Gru

zinski 1996).

Regarding

Mexico, McCaa (1994) suggests that female’s entry

into marriage

was fairly

young, around 15, because mortality was high and i

t was importa

nt to maximize

A SHORT HISTORICAL VIEW OF UNION FORMATION IN LATIN AMERICA

d American Indians

situation was that the

including its ideas of

t have been ‘second wives’

when they had been

l” and did not have the same

e relatives was banned, and

7

tribes, to polygamy (Bernand and Gruzinski 1996; S

teward and Fa

ron 1959).

Some women appear to have never married, instead s

erving as con

sorts, and the

remarriage of widows also seems to have been handl

ed in a varie

ty of ways

the woman’s production of children.

Historically, Latin America was home to many

different abo

riginal groups

who ranged from being simple hunters, fishers or g

atherers to s

lash and burn

farmers, small-scale irrigation farmers and pastor

alists, to la

rge-scale

Children

by

those

children

by

wives.

irrigation

farmers.

These

pre-Columbian

groups

pr

acticed an as

sortment of

marital customs ranging from monogamy, men marryin

g women from

conquered

Despite their pre-Columbian variety, conquere

under other conditions became mere concubines even

baptized.

rights

as

everywhere

confronted

two

common

situations.

One

Church imposed its own view of marriage onto them,

monogamy, concubinage and incest.

Women who migh

consorts

were

“natura

The

marriage

of

clos

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