Toward a Rethinking
of Joking Relationship Theory
JOHN G. KENNEDY
Institutionalized patterns of joking between categories of relatives have been reported from widely separated areas of the world. The great similarities of behavior in these patterns, coupled with the virtual impossibility that they can be explained by diffusion, seems to afford an opportunity to discover something of importance about basic processes of social and psychological behavior. Radcliffe-Brown ( 1952) sensed this possibility and laid the groundwork for the comparative study of joking relationships, but, as several recent scholars have noted, little: theoretical advance has been made since Radcliffe-Brown's pioneer papers on the subject ( Beidelman 1966:355; Hammond 1964:259; McDougal 1964:319).
This paper describes joking relationships among the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico, among whom I did research in 1959-69.1 In attempting to understand this behavior, I came to the____________________
Dr. Augustine Romano and Professor Maurillo Muñoz, director and sub-director of the Instituto Nacional Indigenista, Centro Coordinador Tarahumara, Guachochic Chihucha, at the time of the study, were of invaluable aid to the project. Dr. Pedro Carrasco, Dr. Thomas Hinton, the late Dr. George C. Barker, and Dr. Councill Taylor all gave me the benefits of invaluable advice before and after the research. I would like to especially thank Dr. Ralph L. Beals, whose example stimulated my research among Mexican Indians. His friendship with Mexican officials and anthropologists facilitated my study, his advice clarified many aspects of my analysis, and his support has always encouraged and strengthened my attempts to understand human behavior. This paper has benefited from thoughtful commentary and criticism by Dr. Walter Goldschmidt. I alone take responsibility for any errors which may still remain.
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Publication information: Book title: The Social Anthropology of Latin America:Essays in Honor of Ralph Leon Beals. Contributors: Walter Goldschmidt - Editor, Harry Hoijer - Editor. Publisher: Latin American Center, University of California. Place of publication: Los Angeles. Publication year: 1970. Page number: 36.
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