Kinning the state - state kinning: an introduction
(University of Vienna)
Erdmute Alber (University of Bayreuth)
Paper short abstract:
This introduction explores the bifurcation of political anthropology and the study of kinship suggesting that it is high time to reconnect the two distinct fields of inquiry. As a first step we expand the notion of kinning to conceptualize the intersection between kinship and state.
Paper long abstract:
In this introduction to the panel we start with a short overview on the historical bifurcation of political anthropology and the study of kinship in order to suggest that it is high time to reconnect the two distinct fields of inquiry. Political anthropologists have long drawn attention to the modeling of patron-client relations on kinship (Wolf 1966). Later studies focused on the parallel imaginations of kin-based belonging and the community of the state or nation (Anderson 1981, Borneman 1992, Herzfeld 1992). This emphasis on images was added to by studies on the strategic employment of kinship idioms by marginalized actors to better their position in relation to state authorities (Yang 2005). Apart from the focus on representation and utility, kinship as practice or the intimacy of political relations were largely ignored. On the other hand, new kinship studies have confined their purview to considering the state insofar as it enables or limits familial processes of kinning. We follow the ways in which the social construction of political collaboration and intimate kinship as distinct or even opposed realms has flawed the analysis of their co-production. Taking up the notion of kinning as developed by Signe Howell, we expand it to conceptualize the intersections between kinship and state as a first step in overcoming these limitations.
Kinning the state - state kinning: reconnecting the anthropology of kinship and political anthropology