Parentela is a term used in Brazil meaning 'extended family', including all relatives (parentes) by blood, marriage and ritual, generally living in a number of households. Colloquially the term is understood as a plethora of obedient kin, and elite parentelas have crucial national significance. The practice of endogamous marriage has conserved patrimony (especially onfadenzas) within the family group by preventing the dividing-up of property among legitimate heirs entitled by inheritance laws.
Brazilian feminists have claimed that patria potesas - the authority of the head of the household - has denied wives the right to alienate landed property without their husband's consent. Although not limited to the wealthy elite, parentelas explain the preponderance of coronelismo throughout Brazil, especially in the north-east.
- Brazil Herald - Understanding Brazil (March 25, 2008)