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On "same-year siblings" in rural South China

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This article draws attention to a little-known Chinese idiom and institution of close relatedness between non-kin persons of the same sex. Instead of focusing primarily on the ideology of fictive/ritual kinship behind it, the article proceeds from the ego-centred perspective of the practical/affective phenomenon that leads to its strategic deployment in the first place. This shift of focus to friendship opens the way for the presentation of data on contemporary rural South China that will both counter and give a post-Mao update to the traditional picture of this region as a place in which friendship cannot thrive owing to the dominance of agnatic kinship and territory. These data give support to recent anthropological claims that friendship is a key universal phenomenon of human relatedness.

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