Siobhán M. Mattison

The University of New Mexico Maxwell Museum of Anthropology hosts a lecture titled “A Minority Report: Daughter Preference, Matriliny, and Ethnicity in Southwest China” presented by Siobhán M. Mattison. The Ancestors Lecture explores current research on cutting edge topics in evolutionary anthropology.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Maxwell Museum.

China is often characterized as strongly patrilineal and patriarchal, with strong preferences for sons and extremely male-biased sex ratios. Yet China is also home to a diverse group of 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities who vary in kinship and in preferences for daughters or sons.

In this talk, Mattison describes the kinship and marital systems of the Mosuo (Na) of Southwest China and how these systems relate to the expression of preferences for daughters versus sons. The Mosuo have been dubbed ‘China’s last matrilineal’ society and as the world’s ‘only society without fathers or husbands.’ Mattison casts doubt on these characterizations, revealing that their female-centric social system does undermine a more typical preference for sons. In light of these findings, Mattison will suggest avenues by which policy makers might reduce gender disparities.

Siobhán M. Mattison is an assistant professor in evolutionary anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She earned her degrees from Cornell University (BA) and the University of Washington (MA, PhD) and received postdoctoral training in demographic anthropology at Stanford University. She is interested in how local social and ecological contexts influence decisions made in relation to kinship and reproduction. She explores these issues in China and Vanuatu and any other data she can get her hands on.

The lecture supports the Ancestors exhibition at the Maxwell Museum, open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. The museum is free and open to all.

For more information on the lecture, contact Mary Beth Hermans at (505) 277-1400 or at