Bari exogamy among their territorial groups: choice and/or necessity.


In interviews conducted in 1989, many Bari men claimed that they were forced to marry women from other territorial groups because of a lack of marriageable women within a particular longhouse group. Territorial exogamy in each of the 4 territorial groups of Venezuelan Bari in both precontact and post-contact times were compared in order to determine the extent of the perceived shortage of marriageable women. The analysis was based on a census taken in 1982 and on 30 years of ethnographic, demographic, and genealogical data collected. The total Venezuelan Bari population was 1071 in 1982; 513 (41%) were women and 558 (52%) were men. The sex ratio was 109 men per 100 women. The male/female ratio for those 20 or over revealed 81 women available per 100 men. The male Bari exogamy rate for all those 20 and over in 1982 was 44% for the 213 Bari men. 5 Bari men married non-Bari women and 28 Bari men did not marry. Thus, 15% of Bari men did marry Bari women. Exogamy among Bari women 20 and over in 1982 was 35%. It was significant that territorial group 2 had a very low female exogamy rate (8% of 35 women), a consequence of having only 65 women per 100 men. In all 4 groups, 10 Bari women married non-Bari and only 3 did not marry at all out of 185 women. Thus, 7% of Bari women did not marry bari men, but only 1% did not marry at all. 51 Bari women 40 and over were more endogamous (78%) than the whole contemporary population. Where the proportion of women is lower, the percentage of male exogamy should increase, but this was not the case. Thus, a shortage of women is not a sufficient explanation for Bari exogamy. An increase in exogamy after contact has less to do with a shortage of marriageable women than with 1) the distance from one territorial group to another, 2) pressure from colonists, and 3) the missionaries' practice of taking school-age children to missions outside their group territory.

Cite this paper

@article{Lizarralde1991BariEA, title={Bari exogamy among their territorial groups: choice and/or necessity.}, author={Mercedes Sara Lizarralde and R Lizarralde}, journal={Human ecology}, year={1991}, volume={19 4}, pages={453-67} }