Dividends of Kinship: Meanings and Uses of Social Relatedness

Dividends of Kinship: Meanings and Uses of Social Relatedness

Dividends of Kinship: Meanings and Uses of Social Relatedness

Dividends of Kinship: Meanings and Uses of Social Relatedness

Synopsis

This collection reaffirms the importance of kinship, and of studying kinship, within the framework of social anthropology.The contributors examine both the benefits and burdens of kinship across cultures and explore how 'relatedness' is inextricably linked with other concepts which define people's identities - such as gender, power and history. With examples from a wide range of areas including Austria, Greenland, Portugal, Turkey and the Amazon, it covers themes such as:* how people choose and activate kin* leadership, spiritual power and kinship* inheritance, marriage and social inequality* familial sentiment and economic interest* the role of kinship in Utopian communes Dividends of Kinshipprovides a timely and critical reappraisal of the place of familial relations in the contemporary world. It will be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates and academics in anthropology, and across the social sciences.

Excerpt

This is the first volume on kinship to appear in the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) series. It is based on papers delivered at 'The Dividends of Kinship' workshop at the fourth EASA conference, in Barcelona (July 1996), which was held with the overall theme of 'Culture and Economy: Conflicting Interests, Divided Loyalties'. While kinship-related workshops were notably absent at the first two EASA meetings, in Coimbra (1990) and Prague (1992), the third conference, in Oslo (1994), featured three workshops under the umbrella topic of 'A New Agenda for Kinship Studies'. However, none of the workshops resulted in an edited volume in the EASA Routledge series.

In 1993, in a first call for papers for the Oslo kinship workshops, the conveners Adam Kuper and Gerd Baumann countered the decline of kinship studies during the 1970s and 1980s with a defensive 'but in the field we are still confronted with kinship-or “kinship”. Indeed our informants talk endlessly about marriage and marriage strategies, inheritance and succession, parents and children, siblings, cousins, and family history' (Kuper, A. and Baumann, G. (1993) 'A fresh agenda for kinship studies', EASA Newsletter 10:7). Since then, publishers' catalogues and the tables of contents of anthropological journals are filled with signs of a new 'kinship vogue'. Even the 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association featured a decadal high score of five panels devoted to kinship in one way or another.

The Barcelona workshop on which this volume is based was convened to go beyond approaches to kinship that seemed too narrowly 'cultural relativist', but without retreating to earlier biological or genealogical models of kinship. The abstract called for 'a renewed comparative approach to material and symbolic gains that can be secured through cultural constructs of relatedness', and urged potential applicants 'to explore the plurality of (culturally defined) interests

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