EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P137)
The future of global belonging: anthropological legacies of kinship studies
Location U7-10
Date and Start Time 21 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • David Picard (University of Lausanne) email
  • Naomi Leite (SOAS, University of London) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Nelson Graburn

Short Abstract

This panel explores how the anthropological legacy of kinship studies can help us understand emerging forms of, and claims to, global belonging, as in world heritages, ethnic & religious primordialisms, elective affiliations, transient communities, international relations and diplomacy.

Long Abstract

This panel explores how the anthropological legacy of kinship studies can help us understand emerging forms of, and claims to, global belonging. On the one hand, we would like to bring together anthropologists working on practices of legal, spiritual or economic filiation and transmission, for instance in the contexts of cultural heritage, ethnic roots tourism, cultural content copyright and property, the renaissance of religious primordialisms, globally mapped categorical relations of love and care, the localization of transient communities, or international relations and diplomacy. On the other hand, we also encourage works that explore specific kinship notions (e.g. house, joking relations, brotherhood, etc.) or systems as means and metaphors to make sense of specific contemporary relationships between persons, communities or nations.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Well-being matters: examining local notions and practices of sustainability through an understanding of Ifugao kinship ties between living and deceased kin

Author: Kathrine Ann Cagat (Monterey Peninsula College)  email

Short Abstract

This paper considers local notions and practices of sustainability through a focus on the centrality of kin relations in the undertaking of Ifugao well-being rituals in light of changing subjectivities and the broadening of kinship ties in relation to mobility.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the centrality of kin relations in Ifugao well-being rituals and the way this is embodied in both Ifugao and Christian practices undertaken for deceased kin and living kin who are afflicted with illnesses. As I suggest, a focus on matters of well-being considers how well-being rituals are invaluable to the expansion of kinship relations, particularly in light of changing subjectivities and the broadening of kinship ties in relation to mobility. Ifugao's concern for well-being and practices for its maintenance encapsulate how the living negotiates kinship ties even as descendants become different spiritual subjects than that of their ancestors and even as distances separate kin. Additionally, by focusing on how Christian and Ifugao values are adapted in the work undertaken for well-being matters, I contribute to further understanding Ifugao notions and practices of sustainability. As I consider in this paper, the carrying out of spiritual practices reveal how kinship ties expands people's social networks to include deceased kin. In this way, well-being rituals undertaken for deceased or ill kin demonstrate local notions and practices that require a redefinition of the term 'stakeholders' ubiquitous in development and conservation initiatives. As I will address, a look at religious adaptions in well-being rituals sheds light on how deceased kin play an active role in how people engage with social and environmental transformations, especially in regards to the well-being of kin across time and place.

Creating Sephardic Jewish kinship through musical heritage

Author: Jessica Roda (Concordia University)  email

Short Abstract

In the context of Sephardic people in France, this paper will explore how musical heritage and performance function as a tool for individuals and groups to construct, transmit and represent their sense of belonging, within a community life and the nuclear family.

Long Abstract

During the 20th century in France, several religious and ethnic minorities abandoned their cultural practices to move toward a more secular-modern way of life. The Sephardic people from the Ottoman Empire did not escape this phenomenon when they arrived in France. However, with the revival of Sephardic identity, memories and experiences at the end of the 20th century, I discovered an entire community of people experiencing a process of identity quest: of update of Sephardic memory through kin relations in order to live in the present. Within this assimilation and rupture of the "traditional" system of clan organization, these individuals chose to consolidate their Sephardic-Jewish filiation by interrogating ancestors and their "origins". In this process, cultural heritage, especially the music that was performed using the lost language (Judeo-Spanish), occupied the centre of their collective activity.

This paper will explore how musical heritage and performance function as a tool for individuals and groups to construct, transmit and represent their sense of belonging, within a community life and the nuclear family. Following Sahlins (2011), musical practice and performance will be understood as an experience of "mutuality of being", that is, a relational network between people and groups of people that recognize themselves as united. More broadly, in this research I analyze the ways in which memory, heritage and nostalgia of worlds lost through the experience of migration, modernization and war are constructed both within ethnic and religious communities as well as within families, by means of musical practices staged by artists.

Religious community as a family: forms of belonging in an Orthodox Romanian community in Umbria

Authors: Scilla Passeri (University of Perugia - Italy)  email
Cristina Papa (University of Perugia)  email

Short Abstract

The community of Orthodox Romanian immigrants in Umbria represent themselves through the metaphor of family connecting their religious affiliation with their national belonging.

Long Abstract

Through the analysis of an ethnographic case focused on the Romanian Orthodox community located in Umbria, this presentation will address the importance of religion for the migrants against the Secularization theory. This orthodox parish creates a transnational community connected by various kind of ties such as religious, national, linguistic, mutual help, and educative ones. Because of the above, they represent themselves through the metaphor of the family. For this long-time migration, this parish provides both religious services and several kind of support like economic assistance, educational services, socialization spaces and the legitimating and representation towards Italian authorities. We argue that the use of the family metaphor help to keep together the bond with the Romania (through national festivities), the families in Romania (through the education of younger children left to relatives and some central orthodox rites as the rituals for the dead); and the Italian social networks and political institutions. Most scholars counterpose the identification of migrants with national states to their affiliation to religious groups, which support the framing of collective diasporic identities and inform creative modes of cross-generational cultural production. (Cohen 1997; Hinnells 2007; Nesbitt 2007). We will argue instead that those migrants identify themselves both as Orthodox and Romanian. Therefore we can call the national belonging and the religious affiliation 'a mutuality of being' (Sahlins 2013) represented and conceptualized through the family model.

Transnational family makings of African migrant health workers

Author: Silvia Wojczewski (Université de Lausanne)  email

Short Abstract

Transnational family studies are investigating the manifold manners in which family networks from different social and cultural backgrounds care for each other over the distance. This paper analyses transnational family settings of African migrant health-workers and the meanings of care.

Long Abstract

Mobility and absence are common features of family life for many around the world. Transnational family studies are investigating the manifold manners in which family networks from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds care for each other over the distance; including emotional, economic and practical support. Drawing from a research project with African migrant health workers living in European or African destinations this paper analyses the organization of family life with distant relatives. In what kind of family settings are migrant health workers living? Most importantly all the migrant health workers from the study are not individual adult-workers that can be understood without their social network. Their future plans and their mobility patterns are highly dependent on their family network but also on fictive kin (friendships). Travelling back and forth between destination and home country, whether international or intercontinental, is part of the migrant's life. From the interviews we could define a variety of family settings; from living alone in the destination to living with nuclear plus extended family everything seems possible. Besides relatives, friends and ongoing work relations in the home country many respondents also create a link to their home country by constructing and buying houses/properties. "Care" is an important feature for maintaining and strengthening kin relations over the distance and over time. It has to be considered in a very broad manner including physical, emotional and material care-giving. "Care" as analytical category offers a variety of options to study (fictive) kin relations and questions of belonging in transnational migration.

Kinning kin: Portuguese Marranos, "the Jewish family," and multi-scalar relations

Author: Naomi Leite (SOAS, University of London)  email

Short Abstract

This paper tracks the interpenetration of kinship discourses across scales and domains, through analysis of the (re)incorporation of Marranos -- Portuguese descendants of 15th-century Jews forced to convert to Catholicism -- into "the Jewish family."

Long Abstract

Imaginaries of essential connection at the level of peoplehood—diasporic, religious, ethnic—do not necessarily translate to kin-like interactions at the level of persons. Jews worldwide understand themselves to be a "people," a lineage group unified by mythical descent from the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Jewish personhood, too, is framed in terms of kinship: according to Jewish law, a Jew is the "biological" offspring of a Jewish mother or a convert to Judaism, who joins the lineage of Abraham and can thus also give birth to "biological" Jewish offspring. To what extent do these two scales of kinship intersect? This paper examines a controversial case: Portugal's "Marranos," Catholic-born urbanites who trace their ancestry to 15th-century Jews forced to convert to Catholicism. Although not Jewish according to Jewish law, Marranos are widely considered "lost brethren" who should be welcomed collectively back to "the Jewish family." Yet as individuals they have been rejected by Portugal's normative Jewish community. Consequently, they turn to international Jewish tourists and outreach workers in their search for Jewish belonging. Based on longterm fieldwork in Portuguese Marrano associations, I explore how emotional and spiritual affinity ultimately surpassed ancestry as the primary grounds of their Jewishness. Articulated in kin terms and instantiated in acts of care, transnational bonds with repeat foreign visitors created a "Jewish family" writ small, and, in turn, a path to incorporation into "the Jewish family" writ large—paradoxically not through relatedness grounded in descent, but through belonging forged in love and choice.

Global brotherhood without close kin: public and private kinship in the relations between a Chinese lineage-village community and its diaspora

Author: Anne-Christine Trémon (Université de Lausanne)  email

Short Abstract

Based on field research in a former emigrant village in the Pearl River Delta, this paper examines the role played by the lineage, a widespread form of kin organization in this region of South China, in sustaining the connection of emigrants and their descendants to their village of origin.

Long Abstract

Based on field research in a former emigrant village in the Pearl River Delta, this paper examines the role played by the lineage, a widespread form of kin organization in this region of South China, in sustaining the connection of emigrants and their descendants to their village of origin. In the 1950s, the lineage, a core object in Africanist anthropology, was imported into the study of China by Maurice Freedman. His functionalist interpretation of the lineage system has since then been widely criticized, and many scholars have drawn attention to other aspects of kin relations. Revisiting Freedman's theory, I make two arguments. The first is that against the supposedly 'natural' tendency for the lineage to segment, there has been a counter-effort on the part of the village-lineage leaders to foreground the founding ancestor in order to maintain unity in a context of strong emigration. This allows the lineage to act as a global framework for identification among all of the faraway kin. The second argument nuances the first. Using observational material on 'return' visits to the village by descendants of emigrants, I show how in spite of the rhetoric of global brotherhood held by lineage leaders, the interactions between locals and visitors from overseas are limited by the latter's absence of close kin. The dialectics between public and private kinship play a strong role in the ambivalence experienced by diasporic visitors between a feeling of global belonging and a feeling of estrangement.

Significant ancestors and soul-stirring sympathies: kinship, affinity and conversion in Poland's Jewish revival

Author: Jan Lorenz (Adam Mickiewicz University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses kinship in the context of claims to Jewish affiliation and practices of becoming Jewish by conversion in contemporary Poland enabled by the "Jewish revival" and informed by its global context.

Long Abstract

This paper looks at the two phenomena closely associated with the transformation of Poland's Jewish institutions, informed and shaped by the meeting of local and global visions, projects and activists: claims to Jewish affinity and becoming Jewish by religious conversion. The grassroots movement of Jewish religious and cultural revival, initiated in the late-communist era and intensifying after the political shift of 1989, combined with the extensive support of international Jewish charities, furnished new criteria and ways of becoming Jewish. This predisposed some individuals of partial Jewish ancestry, often raised in Catholic homes, to become socially and religiously active as Jews, as well as giving other Poles the possibility to become Jewish through conversion preceded by elaborate and long preparations. These "returns" and "becomings" invite us to return to the topic of kinship and examine it at the crossing of religiosity, sensibility, genealogical filiation, imagination and the global politics of belonging.

'You are our relatives': linguistic kinship and kinship as language between Greeks and Southern Italian Griko-speakers

Author: Manuela Pellegrino (Brunel University London)  email

Short Abstract

Through the ethnography of the revival of Griko, a language of Greek origins used in Italy, I highlight the language of kinship through which the Hellenic cultural heritage is reclaimed as expression of global belonging, shaping relationships between people and communities in Greece and Southern Italy

Long Abstract

After the general decline of interest in kinship studies, the role of kinship structure to extend itself over international boundaries has been highlighted in the context of Greek diasporic communities (Voutira 2011, Nitsiakos 2010). Based on my ethnography of the revival of Griko, a language of Greek origins used in the Southern Italian province of Lecce, this paper examines the potential and limits of the language of kinship between Greeks and Italian Griko-speakers, who do not belong to the historical Greek categories of diaspora and "lost homeland". In particular I draw attention to its dual articulation - linguistic kinship and kinship as language - in the context of Greek tourism in the hellenophonic villages and of collaborations between cultural associations on both shores; this is implemented by the analysis of Greek newspapers' articles dealing with Griko. My data show how despite the limited mutual intelligibility between Greek and Griko, their deep linguistic kinship is selectively highlighted and iconically projected onto the speakers, becoming the 'proof' of historically deep social relations. I highlight therefore the resort of kinship related terms in the dominant Greek discourse to explore the ways in which kinship remains powerful, beyond the Western biologizing assumption of the term itself (Sutton 1997: 429): kinship becomes indeed the very language through which the Hellenic cultural heritage is reclaimed as an idiom of global belonging. The legacy of kinship studies remains therefore central in understanding how contemporary relationships between persons, communities and places in Greece and Southern Italy are shaped.

From familial to multi-sited global generations

Author: Katrin Ullmann (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf)  email

Short Abstract

In times of globalization and global flows the concept of generational experiences – broadly used for familial and national narrations – needs to be opened up to be able to describe more complicated global relations and aspects of global belonging today.

Long Abstract

Generation is a concept which is broadly known for kinship relations connecting e.g. family memory over time. Generation is responsible then for various interconnections and transmissions over different age-generations, re-organizing ideas of what builds the family. In that way feeling part of generational bounds is part of becoming a family on the daily basis of "doing family" (Schier/ Jurczyk 2007).

The concept of generation is also used to describe experiences and relations with members of the ‚state-family' sharing the same lifetime. Generation then gets a broader meaning for different experiences shared with (un-)known others, also related to narratives of some kind of ‚Zeitgeist', but still claimed to take place in a national frame (Mannheim 1964).

In times of globalization and global flows the concept of generational experiences needs to be opened up to be able to describe more complicated relations and aspects of global belonging: Shared experiences and feelings of connection are necessarily "multi-sited" (Marcus 1995) and multi-temporal today. This can be examined for media experiences, global events, but also for experiences of human movement like travel and migration.

Based on semi-structured interviews with informants from different parts of the world therefore a new concept to examine global generations is discussed on the example of especially mobile and privileged group: Backpacker.

Global generations are perceived as temporary, yet multidimensional "imagined communities" (Anderson 2005) bringing together people from different backgrounds, nevertheless sharing experiences that allow them to feel part of a global generation and share the idea of global belonging

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.