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Accepted Paper:

The making and breaking of marriages: do 'New Kinship Studies' contribute to the understanding of affinity?  
Bettina Beer (University of Lucerne) Donald S Gardner (University of Luzern)

Paper short abstract:

Critiques of earlier anthropological studies of kinship focus on how kin relations are made or done. Yet older views distinguished between consanguineal and affinal relations partly in relation to such dimensions. This paper asks how newer views of kinship account for the specificities of marriage.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on some of the theoretical dimensions of the panel's topic. Since Schneider's critique of the anthropological study of kinship and the emphasis of Janet Carsten and others on the making of relations, negotiations, fluidity and flexibility, individual choices and commitments have moved to the centre of the study of what 'kinship does'. We begin by pointing out that the anthropology of kinship has almost always seen marriage and structurally significant affinal relations as subject to strategic negotiation - to making and breaking. This leads us to ask what 'New Kinship Studies' implies for the understanding of marriage. In this reflexive mode, a further question arises about the general soundness of seeing negotiation and the making of relationships as characteristic of consanguinity as well as affinity. Reproductive relations, the organization of care and the definition of boundaries and social identities involve their own imperatives. For example, while 'alternative' types of marriage (such as same sex unions) are increasing in frequency, they still represent a small percentage of the total and tend not to reconfigure broader patterns of social organisation and the interactions these entail.

Panel P018
Rethinking marriage: exchange and emotion in comparative perspective
  Session 1