Kinship Essay Topics

Kinship Essay


A kinship is a working system linking human beings together in an orderly arrangement of interactions, by which particular customs are seen as functioning parts of the social machinery. A kinship system is a network of social relations which constitutes part of that total network of social relations which is the social structure. The rights and duties of relatives to one another are part of the system and so are the terms used in addressing or referring to relatives.

To understand any kinship system it is necessary to carry out analysis in terms of social structure and social function. The component of social structure are human beings, and the structure is an arrangement of functions in relations, institutionally defined and regulated.

Basic terminology

For the understanding of any aspect of social life ,whether economic, political or religious , it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of the system of kinship and marriage.

A system of kinship and marriage can be looked at as an arrangement which enables people to live together and co-operate with another in an orderly social life. It links persons together by convergence of interest and sentiments and controls and limits those conflicts that are always possible as the result of divergence of sentiments or interest.

All the kinship system of the world are the product of social evolution. An example of diverse kinship system played by cattle in kinship and marriage can be looked at patrilineal cattle keeping people of south and east African people from Sudan and Transkei.

Two persons are kins, when one is descended from the other as per example- grandchild is descended from a grandparent or when they are both...

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Kinship As A Mechanism For Social Integrating

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The Significance of Family and Kinship

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Haviland's and Clark's research on stages of childrens' linguistic development of kinship terms

890 words - 4 pages There have been many studies on kinship terms. In 1928, Piaget looked at children's definitions of the terms 'brother' and 'sister'. Danziger (1957) and Elkind (1962) replicated the study and also looked at three additional terms: 'daughter', 'uncle' and 'cousin'.However, it was not until 1974, that Haviland and Clark asked children, between the ages of 3 and 8, to define 15 kinship terms. These were: mother, father, son, daughter,...

Essay on Kinship in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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So Men Should be When Needed. An essay about the allegorical concepts in "Beowulf", with kinship in the forefront

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The themes of giving birth and creating life, isolation and alienation and family and kinship.

2100 words - 8 pages Introduction and problem definitionIn this short essay I would like to state thoughts and answer questions concerning the famous book "Frankenstein" by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The story has been a huge influence on the genre of gothic novels, on female writers and on movie makers. Its themes have fascinated the literature scene and inspired other authors. This is why I...

Kalapalo Indians of Central Brazil.

1716 words - 7 pages The Kalapalo Indians of Central Brazil are one of a few surviving indigenous cultures that is uniquely protected by a national reserve in lowland South America. Through no effort of their own, they have been isolated artificially from Brazilian social and economic influences that reach almost every other Indian tribe in Brazil. This unusual situation has made it...

Political Critique of Race Relations in Alice Walker's Color Purple

2238 words - 9 pages The Color Purple as Political Critique of Race Relations       If the integrated family of Doris Baines and her adopted African grandson exposes the missionary pattern of integration in Africa as one based on a false kinship that in fact denies the legitimacy of kinship bonds across racial lines, the relationship between Miss Sophia and her white charge, Miss Eleanor Jane, serves an analogous function for the American South....

Why We Do What We Do?

1035 words - 4 pages Rule #1: My Age When we are three, we often call our relatives by different names than what we would at twenty. This simple fact dictates my first rule. In my kinship terminology, I apply this rule to my mother, father, and sister. When I was younger, I addressed to them as Mommy, Daddy, and Sis. Today, I address them as Mom, Dad, and Breann.Rule...

Matriarchial vs. Patriarchial Values in Antigone

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The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

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Editor's Introduction

In response to the often-deafening debates concerning the marriage equality movement in the US, clandestine polygamous marriages in Italy, transnational adoptions, and expanding global access to medicalized reproduction, this Curated Collection draws together five recent essays to be published by Cultural Anthropology which critically examine the topic of kinships. Through an array of methodological, theoretical, and textual approaches, the essays in this issue focus attention on less familiar, though equally instructive, practices, and imaginaries of kinship. We offer these essays as a challenge to reflect on the perpetual motion of the politics of kinship, as well as an invitiation to explore the rich archive on the topic to be found in Cultural Anthropology.

In its 20 year history, Cultural Anthropology has published cutting edge scholarship on topics ranging from incest to genetics. Despite the penetrating analyses that many of these studies offer, the pages of Cultural Anthropology also reflect the wavering significance of the study of kinship to anthropological scholarship. For although attention to kinship is evident from the earliest issues of the journal, for example, Sherry Errington's 1987 article "Incestuous Twins and the House Societies of Insular Southeast Asia", the journal was relatively silent on the topic of kinship for nearly a decade after the publication of Errington's essay until the posthumous publicaiton of David Schneider's notes on alternative kinship formations. Schneider's article, "The Power of Culture: Notes on Some Aspects of Gay and Lesbian Kinship in America Today", inaugurated a debate that brought 'homosexual kinship' into the spotlight and drew comment from Marilyn Strathern, Richard K. Herrell, and Ramon A. Gutierrez.

The topic of kinship remained unexamined in these pages for another decade with the exception of Susan McKinnon's article, "Domestic Exceptions: Evans-Pritchard and the Creation of Nuer Patrilineality and Equality". McKinnon's article offers an interrogation of the theoretical underpinnings of the work of one of the most influential anthropologists in the discipline of anthropology: Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. McKinnon's close reading of Evans-Pritchard's corpus on the Nuer (i.e., Naath) highlights the 'situatedness and cultural specificity of the theoretical frameworks' that were in use at the time of its composition. This approach enables McKinnon to reveal the presence of a tripartite division between the domestic, the political, and the religious spheres undergirding Evans-Pritchard's depiciton of Nuer everyday life. Consequently, McKinnon argues that Evans-Pritchard's presentation of the Nuer as egalitarian and patrilineal not only obsures the existence of alternative models of kinship and affiliation amongst the Nuer, but also reinforces his onto-epistemological orienations.

Eight years after McKinnon's essay, Cultural Anthropology revisited the topic of kinships with the publication of two articles in its November 2008 issue: "We Were Dancing in the Club, Not on the Berlin Wall: Black Bodies, Street Bureaucrats, and Exclusionary Incorporation into the New Europe" by Damani James Partridge and "Runaway Stories: The Underground Micromovements of Filipina Oyomesan in Rural Japan" by Lieba Faier. Not only do these articles share a focus on the manifest diversity in kinship formations, but their authors also both attend to how those formations are inflected by local, transnational, and global forces. Partridge's essay isolates a complex that he refers to as "exclusionary incorporation" in the post-Wall moment in Germany whereby "white" female, German citizens exercise judgment and discretion in their relations with their "black" sexual partners, effecting the legal regime of the state at the level of the nightclub encounter. Partridge argues that deliberations by these women over the possibility of marriage to their "black" partners reflects German immigration and asylum laws, refracted through the lens of desire for the hypersexualized black male body, reiterating the dynamics of the Nazi genocide and German guilt as well as the celebration of African-American culture in the post-Cold War capitalist moment.

Immigration policies also undergird Faier's essay where she attends to the experiences of immigrant Filipina women (Oyomesan) married to Japanese men, many of whom initially arrived to Japan as employees in rural hostess bars. In interviews with these women, Faier detects the frequency of the invocation of a strategic tactic of "running away" from their less than ideal domestic conditions. Faier understands the practice and imaginary of "running away" as a "micromovement" that enables these women to "negotiatate the disappointing gaps that emerge between their dreams and expectations for their lives abroad and the demands and constraints that they expereince." Consequently, "running away" as both practiced and imagined, provided these women with the prospect of an extradomestic space where the vulnerabilities that Japanese immigration policies in concert with the political economic relations between Japan, the Phillipines, and the United States could be mitigated.

A renewed interest in the complexities of kinship formations is increasingly evident in more recent issues of Cultural Anthropology. In the February 2009 issue, "Fathers, Sons, and the State: Discipline and Punishment in a Wolof Hinterland", Donna Perry reflects on three "breach cases" of intergenerational conflict in rural Senegal whereby elder males enlist the services of state police forces to discipline rebellious youth. Perry asks: "Why do Wolof farmers seek recourse with the absolute Other (the state) to solve domestic disputes?" Her analysis suggests that a dichotomization between public (the state police) and private (the rural Senegalese household) are actually in collaboration in the enforcement of a "biased vision of the public good." Although this version of the public good is inflected by neoliberal reform and free market fundamentalism, and the household is caught up in a dynamic struggle for control over resources, fathers selectively engage state agents to perpetuate a model of the "good" Wolof family.

Subsequently, in a May 2009 article, "Mediating Kinship: Country, Family, and Radio in Northern Australia", Daniel Fisher analyzes the articulation of radio broadcasts with idioms of kinship in postcolonial Northern Australia, simultaneously outlining the socio-historical contexts of Aboriginal personhood and identity. Fisher examines the importance of kinship for an Aboriginal Australian social imaginary wherein personal, familial, and communal links have been broken by decades of loss, geographic dispersal, and incarceration. He argues that Indigenous radio request programs, largely the products of cultural activists, animate two domains of mediated social life: the networking faciliatated by and through communicative technologies, on the one hand, and the normative reckoning of kin, on the other. The 'back-and-forth movement' between these networked orders ultimately 'secures the value of each domain.'

We hope that this collection of essays challenges our readers to reflect on the vital contributions that anthropological inquiry continues to offer on the steadfast complexities of kinship. Please join us in our Discussion Forum to discuss this Curated Collection as well as explore the complete list of essays on Kinships from Cultural Anthropology's archive.


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