University of London

The primary aim of this paper is to describe two events which occurred during
my second field trip to Turkey,(l) to offer some analysis of them, and to raise
one or two general questions. The analysis also requires a description, which I
have sought to make complete, if brief, of the patrilineal groups found in these

Folkhead, the village in which I lived on this trip, was fairly large—about
1200 people, living in about 215 households. One afternoon in November, one
of the wealthier villagers had invited me to drink coffee in his own guest room.
Most of the middling and more prosperous households have a room, usually
well away from the family part of the house and the women, which is specially
reserved for the men of the household; it is generally known as oda, the
ordinary Turkish word for room. Here the men sit and talk, and entertain their
guests. As we finished drinking coffee, we heard a child crying grievously
outside. We went out of the room on to the stone platform at the head of the
outside staircase which leads up to it. A girl was running into the courtyard of
the next house shouting out, "Cocuk vurdular." Literally, this might mean
"They have struck a child," and I did not at once realize what she meant.
"Dead, dead," shouted the girl as she disappeared into her house. She had been
telling us that a young man had been shot.

The victim, head of a household and father of a young family, had recently
returned from military service. He had been shot by a young neighbor, and had
died within a few minutes, right outside the guest room of the current village
headman.(2) Women were wailing and screaming and gesticulating wildly
round the corpse, while a solemn group of men stood by watching, and
occasionally trying fruitlessly to restrain them. The murderer had made off;
apparently countershots had been fired, but unsuccessfully, and by this time no
one seemed concerned to pursue him —that was left to the authorities.

After a while, we retired to the headman's guest room which was close by.
The dead lad's father sat in grim silence, while the father's brother sobbed and
trumpeted, shouting the name of the dead youth. A younger brother was also
crying violently, and for a short while even a woman who had refused to leave
the body was brought in to calm them down.

In spite of these disturbances, conversation proceeded. The men sitting round


  discussed what had happened, and when the doctor would come. They praised
the excellence of the young man—only his friends and kinsmen were present.
There was a marked sense of shock—"A vile and outrageous act," they said. It
was so sudden. "If only there had been a quarrel, insults flying, and fighting,"
they kept repeating. Nevertheless, the blame was not put on the murderer's
shoulders. In the villages they were used to this sort of thing. "A barbarous
people." "Our life is rotten." People condemned their village freely. They saw
the killing as a part of the village way of life.

The next day, a doctor and other officials arrived and carried out a formal
inquiry, and the corpse was buried. The young murderer was arrested in a day
or so in another village, and put in jail. He was eventually sentenced to ten
years imprisonment. For a day or two the atmosphere in the village was tense
with fear of reprisal, but things slowly returned to a sort of sombre normality,
and three years later no reprisal had taken place.

Acts of violence in Turkish villages are fairly common. People are quick to
resent insults, and most adult men are armed with knives or revolvers. I heard
of many cases during my field work. In this village another fight took place
shortly after I left, and led to shooting, though the victim recovered. In
Blackrock, between my first visit in 1949 and 1953, there had been to my
knowledge two killings and three woundings. Reports from other local villages
and from other parts of Turkey indicate that these two villages are by no means
exceptional. The description and analysis of this particular quarrel may
therefore throw some light on a more general problem, namely the social
conditions which lie behind these acts of violence. But first I must outline
village social structure.

Everyone in the countryside in this area must be a member of at least two kinds
of groups—village (koy) and household (ev or hane). Villages are distinct
clusters of houses, separated from each other by anything from half an hour to
two hours' walk over bare, unfenced fields,—often broken by rocky, sharp
escarpments or even mountains. Each village is composed of patrilineally
organized households. Normally, married sons live in their father's household
so long as he is alive, and brothers often remain together for a while
afterwards. Men rarely migrate from village to village.

Within the village, the men of these households form patrilineal kinship
groups, which with hesitation I call lineages. They are not of very wide
span—the effective group usually consists of households whose heads
acknowledge a common ancestor two or three generations above the senior
living generation. In Blackrock, with about 100 households in all, the largest


  effective lineage was twenty households strong. Seven others, ranging from
four to ten households strong, showed some solidarity. The remaining thirty-
four households had no agnatic affiliation beyond a fraternal household or two.
For Folkhead where my information is less comprehensive, the situation,
proportionate to size, was similar. AY lineage, of which I give the details
below, was the largest lineage at nineteen households.

These lineages have no formal constitution. They are not legal or jural
persons,—they own nothing in common, they have no common ritual
corresponding to totem or ancestor worship, and they are not exogamous.
They do have names, and there is a village word for this type of group—
Labile, the Istanbul Turkish word for a tribe, taken from Arabic,—but they
have no other symbols of unity. It has been suggested that the term 'corporate
group' is a tautology,(3) and in strict logic this makes sense. Yet it also makes
sense to say of these groups that they are not corporate,(4) but depend rather
on the duties which the individual members owe each other as patrikin. These
duties are many and complex, but one overrides all the others—a man must
support all members of his lineage in any quarrels and fights in which they are
involved. Other duties, such as help in times of economic crisis or in sickness,
or help with marriage arrangements and expenses, may be given to near kin
who are not members of the lineage, but the obligation to fight on each other's
behalf is confined to lineage members. Of course, any men present at a fight
are clearly liable to join in, but if they do so, then it is ad hoc, out of friendly
zeal or passing anger, and not a matter of duty; and they risk embroiling their
own lineage in the quarrel.

If a man is in trouble with his neighbours, his patrikin will come to his aid, and
in doing so, will be acting together as a group. But it is not only at times of
open fighting that this situation occurs. Quiescent hostility is normal in the
villages. For this, the villagers use a word ‘kus,' by which they mean a sort of
mutual sulking. It implies the state of mind of Achilles in his tent,—one has
been wronged or insulted, and broken off normal social relationships. The
negative of kus is 'to speak to each other; to say “We are speaking to each
other" (konusuyoruz) may sometimes mean "We have been reconciled." Any
self-respecting lineage is more than likely to be kus with at least one other
similar group.

The lineage exists to defend its members. When in Blackrock, I once
suggested migration to distant parts of Turkey as a solution to land poverty,
they at once said: "But if we quarrelled, who would come to our aid ?" But at
the same time, the existence of the lineage depends on its having enemies
against which to defend its members; since it has no other occasion for
corporate action. A lineage at peace with its neighbors would lose the main


  point of its existence.

Not all households are effective members of lineages, and not all lineages take
their solidarity seriously. In societies where unilineal groups are more
important than they are here, it may be impossible to survive without the
support of a powerful lineage to defend one's rights. But in these villages,
many households are isolated. This isolation may result from one or more of a
number of causes; namely the dying out of collateral branches, genealogical
remoteness from, or simply lack of interest in one's agnates, active quarrelling
with them, or migration to a new village.

Households which have lost all their close agnates may become relatively
prosperous, by inheriting a sufficiency of good land; though prosperity also
depends on the size and industry of the household. Sometimes a poor or slow-
witted man will ignore agnates if they are not very close, or they will ignore
him. Quarrels between very close agnates, though common, do not usually
become permanent, especially if the lineage is under pressure from outside. I
did record one case where a man, claiming membership of a large lineage with
which he had quarrelled, was left to shoot it out with another large lineage
supported only by his own sons.

Most migrants between villages move into their mother's village, and marry
her brother's daughter or other close kinswoman, and in these cases sometimes
seem to be regarded more or less as full members of her lineage. In Folkhead,
there were two immigrant households which had no local kin ties at all, and
there were also about fifteen households of refugees from eastern Turkey, who
had been living in the village at least since the Russian invasion in the first
World War. Among these are now groups of households whose heads are
brothers, and the whole group is sometimes spoken of as 'the refugees.' Most
of them live in the same quarter, and tend to intermarry rather more with each
other than with the old established village households. But they are not
equivalent to a lineage, although they contain the beginnings of several separate

It is mainly poor households which seem to avoid lineage responsibilities and
do without lineage support. Many poor households belong to small groups of
brothers or brothers' sons, and one or two lineages of considerable size whose
members are all poor and of low social rank do not appear to take their lineage
membership seriously. On the other hand, large and effective lineages always
seem to include a number of middling or poor households, clustered round and
supporting close agnates of greater power and wealth.(5)

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