Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 179–191 | Cite as

Women's hierarchies of age and suffering in an Andean community

  • Winifred L. Mitchell


In the Aymara community of ‘Utani’, hierarchical relationships between middle aged and younger women are evident in the cycle of domestic life. An older woman — mother, sister, step mother, mother-in-law — has unquestioned authority as taskmistress over the labor of girls and young women; although very old women no longer wield such power. Post-marital residence patterns and the family life cycle contribute to the hierarchical relationships among women in an extended family household. When women's community-wide prestige is examined, however, a different pattern is apparent. Prestige among female peers is based less on age than on a woman's reputation for being long-suffering. The paper concludes that these two types of female hierarchy complement each other as part of women's adaptation to the exploitations of peasant life.

Key Words

female age hierarchy Peru Andes Aymara women Aymara aging 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winifred L. Mitchell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyMankato State UniversityMankatoUSA

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