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M.G. Smith On The Isle Of Lesbos: Kinship And Sexuality In Carriacou

Andrew Apter

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Abstract In Kinship and Community in Carriacou (1962), M.G. Smith documents what he calls “abnormal” sexual relations between women in female-headed households on the island. These lesbian madivines represent statistically significant “deviations” from normative patterns of kinship and residence in domestic groups, and are associated with the shapeshifting witchcraft of sukuyan and lougarou. Linking Smith’s ethnography of “mating patterns” to transactional pathways of reproductive value—blood, money, witchcraft and sexuality—I rework his ideological explanation of Carriacou lesbianism (as a “mechanism” for preserving female marital fidelity) into a feminist model of female empowerment with comparative potentialities throughout the Caribbean.