Paper short abstract:
So-called ‘gender theory’ is under attack, as well as LGBT rights, branded in some contexts as ‘colonial’ or ‘Western’. Simultaneously, critical theories call for ‘queering’ and ‘decolonization’. What can and should anthropologists say about these developments that seem to challenge a certain liberal consensus, considering the discipline’s focus on kinship, gender and sexual politics?
Paper long abstract:
We have been witnessing, in the 21st century, new political rhetorics, discourses, and actions regarding kinship, gender and sexuality. They are closely tied to the definition of national collectivities, to international relations, and they reflect global ideological coalitions. The Catholic Church declared war on what it branded as “gender theory”, evangelical movements resort to homophobic discourse, some African nations categorize gender and sexual rights as ‘colonial”, Russia categorizes them as ‘Western’, to name only a few examples. Their target is the reconfiguration, in Western liberal democracies, of the notions of family, kinship, and filiation, increasingly based on notions of relatedness, content, and choice, rather than on biology or structure. On the other hand, LGBT rights have increasingly become the standard measure for human right’s assessment by US EU diplomacies, while at the same time some trends in activism accuse certain Western countries of practising ‘pinkwashing’ or of downplaying women’s rights. What can and should anthropologists say, considering our legacy of kinship studies, the ‘gender turn’ and, subsequently, their attention to the sexual politics of societies?
Contemporary articulations of kinship and gender