Quest for Harmony: The Moso Traditions of Sexual Union and Family Life.

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Stanford University Press, Dec 7, 2009 - Social Science - 352 pages

In this long-awaited ethnography, Chuan-kang Shih details the traditional social and cultural conditions of the Moso, a matrilineal group living on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in southwest China. Among the Moso, a majority of the adult population practice a visiting system called tisese instead of marriage as the normal sexual and reproductive institution. Until recently, tisese was noncontractual, nonobligatory, and nonexclusive. Partners lived and worked in separate households. The only prerequisite for a tisese relationship was a mutual agreement between the man and the woman to allow sexual access to each other. In a comprehensive account, Quest for Harmony explores this unique practice specifically, and offers thorough documentation, fine-grained analysis, and an engaging discussion of the people, history, and structure of Moso society. Drawing on the author's extensive fieldwork, conducted from 1987 to 2006, this is the first ethnography of the Moso written in English.

 

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Contents

The People and Their History
21
The Political Structure and Cultural Environment of Traditional Moso Society
52
Tisese The Primary Pattern of Institutionalized Sexual Union
73
Marriage The Secondary Pattern of Institutionalized Sexual Union
101
Matrilineal Descent and Matrilineal Ideology
132
The Moso Social Organization The Domestic Group and the Descent Group
149
Navigating through the Web of Social Relations
176
Household Life among the Moso
207
The Unusual Moso Gender System
227
Religions and Rituals among the Moso
241
Conclusion
261
Notes
281
Character List
299
References
305
Index
319
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About the author (2009)

Chuan-kang Shih teaches Anthropology and Asian Studies at the University of Florida.

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