1st Edition

Politics and Kinship A Reader

Edited By Erdmute Alber, Tatjana Thelen Copyright 2022
    306 Pages
    by Routledge

    306 Pages
    by Routledge

    Politics and Kinship: A Reader offers a unique overview of the entanglement of these two categories in both theoretical debates and everyday practices. The two, despite many challenges, are often thought to have become separated during the process of modernisation. Tracing how this notion of separation becomes idealised and translated into various contexts, this book sheds light on its epistemological limitations. Combining otherwise-distinct lines of discussion within political anthropology and kinship studies, the selection of texts covers a broad range of intersecting topics that range from military strategy, DNA testing, and child fostering, to practices of kinning the state.

    Beginning with the study of politics, the first part of this volume looks at how its separation from kinship came to be considered a ‘modern’ phenomenon, with significant consequences. The second part starts from kinship, showing how it was made into a separate and apolitical field – an idea that would soon travel and be translated globally into policies. The third part turns to reproductions through various transmissions and future-making projects. Overall, the volume offers a fundamental critique of the epistemological separation of politics and kinship, and its shortcomings for teaching and research. Featuring contributions from a broad range of regional, temporal and theoretical backgrounds, it allows for critical engagement with knowledge production about the entanglement of politics and kinship.

    The different traditions and contemporary approaches represented make this book an essential resource for researchers, instructors and students of anthropology.

    Introduction: Politics and Kinship 

    Tatjana Thelen and Erdmute Alber

    Part I. Starting from Politics: Partitions and boundaries

    1. Introduction to African Political Systems

    Meyer Fortes and Edward E. Evans-Pritchard

    2. Kinship within and beyond the ‘Movement of Progressive Societies’

    Susan McKinnon

    3. Kinship Weaponized: Representations of Kinship and Binary Othering in U.S. Military Anthropology

    Thomas Zitelmann

    4. Father State, Motherland, and the Birth of Modern Turkey

    Carol Delaney

    5. The Village Headman in British Central Africa: Introduction

    Max Gluckman

    6. State Kinning and Kinning the State in Serbian Elder Care Programs

    Tatjana Thelen, André Thiemann and Duška Roth

    Part II. Starting from Kinship: Technologies and travels

    7. General Results

    Lewis Henry Morgan

    8. Doubt is the Mother of All Inventions: DNA and Paternity in a Brazilian Setting

    Claudia Fonseca

    9. The Algebra of Genocide

    Diane Nelson

    10. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power. Gender and Morality in the Making of Race

    Ann Laura Stoler

    11. Genomics en Route: Ancestry, Heritage and the Politics of Identity across the Black Atlantic

    Katharina Schramm

    12. Making Merit: The Indian Institutes of Technology and the Social Life of Caste

    Ajantha Subramanian

    Part III. Reproductions: Transmissions and future making

    13. The Origins of the Family, Property, and the State

    Friedrich Engels

    14. Including Our Own

    Jeanette Edwards and Marilyn Strathern

    15. Parenthood and Social Reproduction

    Esther Goody

    16. No School without Foster Families in Northern Benin: A Social Historical Approach

    Erdmute Alber

    17. Defining Parents, Making Citizens: Nationality and Citizenship in Transnational Surrogacy

    Daisy Deomampo


    Erdmute Alber is Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.

    Tatjana Thelen is Full Professor in the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, Austria.

    "Politics and Kinship, with a superb introduction by Thelen and Alber, enables us to understand contemporary societies through the entanglement of politics and kinship. The editors are to be lauded for providing the conceptual tools with which we can overcome the theoretical loss much social theory has suffered by leaving unquestioned the specific modernist differentiation of politics and kinship that travelled the world in the service of specific governmental projects. The encompassing perspective presented in this collection ought to enrich many fields of research."

    Julia Eckert, University of Bern

    "Kinship and politics are incommensurable concepts, yet equally salient for anthropology. The chapters in this lively and wide-ranging collection show the enduring interest in thinking through – and with – the shifting conceptual, empirical, and ideal relations between them."

    Michael Lambek, University of Toronto

    "Volume editors Thelen and Alber have imaginatively assembled a series of texts to document anthropology’s enduring fascination with the mutual entanglement of kinship and politics. Their daring mix of respected classics with exciting new scholarship should prompt new, valuable, and perhaps disconcerting reflections on the historical genealogy and future trajectory of the political in the discipline."

    Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

    "Politics and Kinship displays the impact of a core disciplinary boundary beyond the academy. With a collection that ranges from classic anthropological works to recent writings, from marriage to schooling, and from western nations to non-western groups., Politics and Kinship takes the subject beyond debates over definitions, pointing a way to "future-making" in research and in social action."

    Judith Schachter, Carnegie Mellon University


    "This creative and skillful curation of texts from different eras
    productively illuminates the multiple entanglements of kinship and
    politics. Interrogating the legacies and futures of anthropological
    knowledge, the juxtapositions assembled in this volume will revitalise
    contemporary debate, taking it in new and exciting directions."

    Janet Carsten, University of Edinburgh