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The Hidden FrontierEcology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley$
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John Cole and Eric Wolf

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780520216815

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520216815.001.0001

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(p.175) Chapter VIII Inheritance
The Hidden Frontier

John W. Cole

Eric R. Wolf

University of California Press

This chapter examines the inheritance process, those mechanisms which operate ecologically and socially to divide available resources among possible claimants. It examines the ideology of inheritance; the realities of life; ecological constraints; the age factor in inheritance; the inheritance processes in Tret and St. Felix; inheritance and women; and secondary heirs. The inheritance process works simultaneously at two levels: at the level of the domestic group and at the level of the village as a whole, in the public domain. On the level of the domestic group, it sorts a sibling set into heirs, the disadvantaged, and the disinherited. On the level of the village, the heirs emerge as the anchormen in social exchange, who, as owners and managers, are eligible to marry, to engage in labor exchanges, and to represent the domestic group in public affairs.

Keywords:   Tret, age factor, inheritance, domestic group, St. Felix, social exchange, heir

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