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Kinship is Dead. Long Live Kinship. A Review Article

  • James D. Faubion (a1)
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1 Fortes's Web of Kinship among the Tallensi was published in 1949. Lévi-Strauss's Structures élémentaires de la parenté also appeared in that same year, with an English translation first in 1969.

2 Among the more noteworthy contributions to such a critique, see Hymes, D., ed., Reinventing Anthropology (New York: Random House, 1969); Asad, T., ed., Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (London: Ithaca Press, 1973); Said, E., Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978); and Clifford, J. and Marcus, G., eds., Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California, 1986).

3 For a particularly influential critique, see Bourdieu, P., Outline of a Theory of Practice, Nice, R., trans. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1977). See also Derrida, J., “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences,” in Writing and Difference, Bates, A., trans. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 278–93.

4 See, for example, Fabian, Johannes, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983).

5 See Collier, J. F. and Yanagisako's, S. J. “Introduction” to their jointly edited Gender and Kinship: Essays Toward a Unified Analysis (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), 1.

6 Barnes, J. A., “Kinship Studies: Some Impressions of the Current State of Play,” Man (n.s.), 15:2 (1980), 293303.

7 See Schneider, D., A Critique of the Study of Kinship (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984).

8 J. F. Collier and S. J. Yanagisako, “Introduction,” Gender and Kinship, 1.

9 See especially Schneider, D., American Kinship: A Cultural Account (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968).

10 Goody, J., Production and Reproduction: A Comparative Study of the Domestic Domain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

11 Goody, J., The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

12 Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 380.

13 Ibid., 463.

14 Ibid., 290.

15 Ibid., xii.

16 Ibid., xvi; see also 1 and 12

17 Compare Ibid., 160–1.

18 Ibid., 240; for a more extended and less forgiving commentary on Schneider's cultural particularism, see p. 238

19 Ibid., xii and 16.

20 See Bouquet, M., Reclaiming English Kinship: Portuguese Refractions of English Kinship Theory (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1993), 27.

21 Cf. Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, xi and 136.

22 Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, xvi, see also 1 and 12.

23 Ibid., 16 and passim.

24 Ibid., 25.

25 Ibid., 32.

26 On the bond between brother and sister in India and the Rakshabandhan ritual, see Ibid., 222–5.

27 As in Production and Reproduction and in The Development of Marriage and the Family, Goody insists here that the “indirect dowry” be carefully distinguished from “brideprice” or “bridewealth,” for which it is often mistaken. The indirect dowry always includes property earmarked for the bride's ultimate benefit. True bridewealth comprises property exclusively earmarked for the benefit of the bride's natal group.

28 First in Production and Reproduction, 7.

29 Cf. Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, especially 99 and 115.

30 Cf Ibid., 240–1.

31 Ibid. (see, for example p. 339). Goody reaffirms the link between women's control of property and romantic love. For another view, see Segalen, M., Love and Power in the Peasant Family: Rural France in the Nineteenth Century, Matthews, S., trans. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983). See also Watt, J., The Making of Modern Marriage: Matrimonial Control and the Rise of Sentiment in Neuchâtel, 1550–1800 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 85.

32 See Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, especially 257. Goody would appear to be at odds here with the opinions of the majority of contemporary historians of the family, not even to mention the majority of feminists, whether historians or anthropologists (or both).

33 Ibid., 286.

34 Ibid., 288.

35 Ibid., 7.

36 Ibid., xviii, 2, and passim.

37 Goody accordingly highlights dowry inflation as a common feature of such societies. See The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 450 and also 192–3.

38 For example, the correlation between being of the upper classes and being of a joint or extended family. See Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 212. For another example—the double correlation between elite status and the direct dowry and that between lower status and the indirect dowry—see The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 188, and, more generally, 367.

39 Ibid., 391, 392, and passim.

40 Ibid., 391; citing Levy, H. L., “Inheritance and Dowry in Classical Athens,” in Rivers, J. Pitt-, ed., Mediterranean Countrymen (Paris: Mouton, 1963), 138.

41 See the concise and thorough discussion of the epiklerate in Just, R., Women in Athenian Law and Life (London: Routledge, 1989), 95104. On the ancient denial of rights to women and slaves, see Cantarella, E., Pandora's Daughters: The Role and Status of Women in Creek and Roman Antiquity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), 3851.

42 On the problem of articulating everyday practice in writing and the consequent problems of written evidence, see Goody's exceptionally intelligent discussion, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 411 ff.

43 In any event, this seems to be the classical view. See Cantarella, Pandora's Daughters, 60.

44 See Weber, M., The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations, Frank, R. I., trans. (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1976). Weber's Agrarian Sociology is, in fact, a far more seminal precedent for The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive than Goody seems to realize.

45 Ibid., 36 and throughout.

46 Ibid., 341–54, 381, and 390–1.

47 Ibid., 214ff. and 293. Goody's observation that the same terminology can be adapted to a variety of practices is indispensable. So, too, is his observation that apparently “elementary terminology may in fact disguise” complex practices.

48 Ibid., for example, 338, praises Bourdieu's strategic treatment of marriage in the Outline of a Theory of Practice.

49 Ibid., 230. Citing Dumont's, L.Marriage in India, the Present State of the Question,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 5 (October 1961), 76.

50 Goody, The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive, 231.

51 Ibid., 458, see also 462.

52 The title of Bestard-Camps's monograph in the original Spanish is Casa y familia. The translator usually renders casa as house. The Formenteran house to which Bestard-Camps most often refers is, however, more precisely an estate.

53 Bestard-Camps, What's In a Relative?, 5.

54 Ibid., 73.

55 Ibid., 2.

56 Ibid., 139.

57 Ibid., 5.

58 Ibid., 5.

59 Ibid., 162–74.

60 Ibid., 166.

61 Ibid., 6.

62 Ibid., 92.

63 Ibid., 134 and passim.

64 See Bestard-Camps, What's In a Relative?, 134, on the decline of communal participation in rituals such as baptism. It is worth remarking that, with Goody, Peter Laslett, and a growing legion of European historians, Bestard-Camps does not view the elementary or nuclear family as distinctly modern. He demonstrates that, at least in Formentera past, it is instead a moment, frequent enough, in the domestic cycle of the traditional estate. See What's In a Relative?, 71.

65 Ibid., 6.

66 Ibid.

67 Ibid., 27.

68 Ibid., 152.

69 Ibid., 143.

70 Ibid., 196.

71 Ibid., 11.

72 Ibid., 15.

73 Ibid.

74 Ibid., 4.

75 Ibid., 59.

76 Ibid., 137.

77 Ibid., 196.

78 Particularly bizarre is Sant Cassia's claim that “even among the contemporary Athenian intellectual elite religion is inconceivable without interaction with icons“ (The Making of the Modern Greek Family, 208). But it is not unique. See, for example, Sant Cassia's remarks on the alleged “absence of class sentiments” in twentieth-century Greece (p. 9).

79 Sant Cassia, The Making of the Modern Greek Family, pp. 178ff.

80 Ibid., 19.

81 Ibid., 123.

82 Ibid., 84. The phrase is borrowed from Simmel. See also p. 135 and p. 234.

83 On the arkhontes, see Sant Cassia, The Making of the Modern Greek Family, 22ff.; on the nikokirei, 13, and passim.

84 Ibid., 31; cf. also 58.

85 Ibid., 60.

86 Ibid., 34–47.

87 Ibid., 69.

88 See, for example, the essays collected in Loizos, P. and Papataxiarchis, E., eds., Contested Identities: Gender and Kinship in Modern Greece (Princeton: Princeton University, 1991).

89 See, e.g., Allen, P. S., “Positive Aspects of Greek Urbanization: The Case of Athens by 1980,” Ekistics, 54:318–9 (1986), 187–94.

90 Cf. Sant Cassia, The Making of the Modern Greek Family, 230.

91 Ibid., 218–19.

92 Ibid., 221.

93 Goody rightly warns against construing this high-minded metaphor, common among the elite throughout Eurasia, as indicative of the presence of systems of the sort of “gift exchange” features in Maussian alliance theory. Sant Cassia ventures no such construal himself.

94 Sant Cassia, The Making of the Modern Greek Family, 234.

95 Cf. Ibid., 250.

96 Borneman, Belonging in the Two Berlins, 30.

97 Ibid., 5.

98 Cf. Ibid., 76.

99 Ibid., 76.

100 Ibid., 77.

101 Ibid., 19.

102 Ibid., 32.

103 Ibid., 78.

104 Ibid.

105 Ibid., 79.

106 Ibid.

107 Ibid., 85.

108 Ibid., 86. On the still powerful role of the Catholic church, see p. 87.

109 Ibid., 86. Italics in original.

110 Ibid.

111 Ibid., 86; see also 81.

112 Cf. Ibid., 121.

113 Cf. Ibid., 188.

114 Ibid., 229.

115 Ibid., 256 and passim.

116 Ibid., 277.

117 Ibid., 267.

118 Ibid., 194–5.

119 Ibid., 248.

120 On “mixed clubs,” see Ibid., 270; on orgies, cf. 249.

121 Ibid., 215.

122 Ibid., 274.

123 Cf. Ibid., 132; see also 253.

124 Cf. Ibid., 263.

125 Ibid.

126 Cf. Ibid., 283.

127 Ibid., 250.

128 Ibid., 208, cf. 211.

129 Ibid., 214–6.

130 Ibid., 318.

131 Ibid., 332.

132 Ibid., 333.

133 Strathern, Marilyn, Kinship at the Core: An Anthropology of Elmdon, A Village in North-West Essex, in the 1960s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).

134 Ibid., 3.

135 Ibid., 4.

136 Ibid., 3, cf. 11.

137 Ibid., 73, cf. 132.

138 Cf. Ibid., 83.

139 See, e.g., M. Bouquet, Reclaiming English Kinship, p. 16 and passim.

140 Strathern, After Nature, pp. 91–106; the diagnosis relies on Beer's, Gillian insights in Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Fiction (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983).

141 Strathern, After Nature, p. 189. Cf. Wagner, R., The Invention of Culture (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975).

142 Strathern, After Nature, especially 101–2. Cf. Elias, Norbert, The History of Manners, The Civilizing Process, vol. I (New York: Pantheon, 1978).

143 Strathern, After Nature, 103–5; and cf. 130ff.

144 Ibid., 14

145 Ibid., 22.

146 Ibid., 53.

147 Cf., Strathern's discussion of New Guinean notions of self and kin and the social, After Nature, 69 ff.

148 Ibid., 3.

149 Ibid., 3, 11, and passim.

150 Ibid., 136.

151 Ibid., 130.

152 Ibid., 150.

153 Ibid., 152.

154 Ibid., 133.

155 Ibid., 136.

156 Ibid., 144.

157 Ibid., 150.

158 Ibid., 36.

159 Ibid., 150.

160 Ibid., 39.

161 Cf. Ibid., 5.

162 Ibid., 195.

163 Cf. Ibid., 197.

164 Cf. Ibid., 166.

165 Ibid., 41.

166 Ibid., 196.

167 Ibid., 198.

168 See Althusser, L., For Marx, translated by B. Brewster, (New York: Pantheon, 1969), 3233.

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