After Kinship (New Departures in Anthropology) by Janet Carsten

By Janet Carsten

What's the impression on anthropology of modern experiences of reproductive applied sciences, gender, and the social building of technological know-how within the West? what's the importance of public anxiousness concerning the family members to anthropology's analytic technique? Janet Carsten provides an unique view of the previous, current, and way forward for kinship in anthropology in an effort to be of curiosity to anthropologists in addition to to different social scientists.

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Timings were precise and not subject to negotiation. Visitors inevitably commented on the evening ritual of coffee-making, which took place at table in an old-fashioned Cona coffee-maker lit by a methylated spirit lamp. This operated on principles similar to a Victorian hourglass with the added application of heat. My father always ensured that the coffee was ready by the end of the meal, the Cona functioning rather like a measure of domestic time special to the house. When I remember that kitchen, and the many arguments and discussions that took place over meals there, I always do so from the point of view of my customary seat at the table, visualizing other family members occupying their proper places too.

My aim, however, is not to suggest further analytic refinements or separations, or to contribute to the many arguments that have been made for the social construction of sexual difference. I suggest instead that by reintegrating gender, bodies, and kinship, we might find a way of including so-called biological processes as part of what anthropologists study when they study kinship. In Chapter 4 I turn to anthropological studies of what constitutes a “person” – in terms of moral and spiritual qualities, and of connections to 27 After Kinship other persons.

The most important activities that go on in houses are those which emanate from there. Cooking and eating, the sharing of everyday meals, are in some ways the most obvious markers of what those who live together have in common. But important as these processes are in themselves, they gain an additional salience from their symbolic 37 After Kinship connotations and elaborations. In the Alto Minho region of northern Portugal, Jo˚ao de Pina-Cabral has described the hearth as “the sacred core of the peasant household” (1986: 39).

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