After Kinship (New Departures in Anthropology) by Janet Carsten

By Janet Carsten

What's the effect on anthropology of contemporary experiences of reproductive applied sciences, gender, and the social development of technology within the West? what's the importance of public anxiousness concerning the family members to anthropology's analytic method? Janet Carsten offers an unique view of the earlier, current, and way forward for kinship in anthropology so one can be of curiosity to anthropologists in addition to to different social scientists.

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Example text

Among the Malay people with whom I carried out fieldwork in the early 1980s, rice is the prime source of nutrition and strength, and especially of healthy blood. The consumption of rice meals cooked in the hearth not only strengthens existing ties of kinship between household members, it can actually create such ties with those who have recently come to share residence, such as foster children or in-marrying affines. A fetus is said to be composed of the blood of the mother and the semen of the father.

Her work constitutes another strong influence on this book. Strathern (1992a) takes apart the opposition between a fixed or given nature and a changeable or contingent culture. Nature, she argues, can no longer be considered as the grounding for culture, or as simply there to be revealed or discovered. It is at least partly “produced” through 21 After Kinship technological intervention, and this involves a “literalization” of what previously had remained implicit in Western concepts of nature – and of kinship.

John’s in June, fires are lit in every household yard, as well as in every hamlet and in the square of each parish. Jumping over these fires is a way of protecting households from evil but is also, of course, a source of entertainment and excitement. In childbirth, it is the household hearth that purifies the new baby by consuming the severed umbilical cord and thus detaching the baby from unclean, antisocial, prenatal influences. In all these and many other ways, we are told how the hearth symbolizes the unity of those who live together and endows this unity with sacred characteristics (Pina-Cabral 1986: 39–41).

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