chapter
complementary filiation
Pages 3

Complementary filiation was a term introduced by the group of anthropologists of Africa who are often referred to as *‘descent theorists’, foremost of whom was †M.Fortes. The phrase referred to the fact that in societies with †unilineal descent groups people nonetheless recognize *kinship links with relatives who do not belong to their own descent group. Thus, in societies with †patrilineal descent groups, individuals have important socially-defined links with members of their mother’s family, such as, for example, their mother’s brother or their maternal grandparents, while in †matrilineal societies individuals have similar ties to their father’s family.