Coming of Age in U.S. High Schools: Economic, Kinship, Religious, and Political Crosscurrents

By Annette B. Hemmings | Go to book overview
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4
Kinship Domain: Family
(Dis) connections

Kinship studies flourished in anthropology until the 1980s, when they supposedly lost their popular appeal. To at least one notable scholar in the field, research on kinship, after decades of decline, is beginning to rise “phoenix-like from its ashes” as contemporary anthropologists rediscover its importance in explorations of cultural institutions (Schneider, 1995, p. 193). For others, this line of research has neither dwindled nor is experiencing a sudden resurgence in its former focuses of inquiry. Instead, it has been undergoing a steady transformation from investigations emphasizing genealogies, domestic group cycles, alliance, and descent theories to inquiries focusing on how people actually construct and utilize their kinship connections (Stone, 2001).” New directions, including those followed in this chapter, are being spearheaded by scholars who explore kinship in terms of sexuality, reproduction, and new forms of the family by “examining ideologies, using narratives, and placing the anthropologist among his or her subjects” (Lamphere, 2001, p. 42).

Although kinship studies have undergone significant transformations, high schools continue to be ignored as prime sites for fieldwork. This is curious given the fact that high schools have offered formal instruction on the family since the 1940s when “life adjustment education” was officially added to the curriculum (Kliebard, 1987). High schools also are where teenagers form intimate heterosexual and/or homosexual relationships; make love or abstain from sexual intercourse; use or don't use birth control; bear, give up, or abort children; become parents or forego parenting; and otherwise negotiate the discursive extremes and practices of kinship relations. I found that graduating seniors, in their negotiations,

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