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The Importance of Kinship: Uncle and Nephew in “Beowulf”

Rolf H. Bremmer Jr

Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, 1980

In 1870 lohann lakob Bachofen set out to work on a new edition of his ‘Mutterrecht’. This time he did not restrict himself anyinore to the classical cultures, as in the first edition of his epochal study (1861), but looked for evidence of the state of matriarchy throughout the world. One of the fruits of his research was the observation that among many patriarchal peoples a special cordial relation existed between the mother’s brother (MoBr) and the sister’s son (SiSo). Bachofen published some of the results of his investigation in 1880 and 1886 in two slim volumes ‘Antiquarische Briefe. Unfortunately, his results hardly found any resonance and have been completely neglected in subsequent anthropological research. Only in 1924 did Arthur Radcliffe-Brown touch again upon the subject in detail.

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