Wandering Heirlooms. Contested norms in Danish Inheritance practices
Bodil Selmer (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
Heirlooms and inherited money may create links between generations, and thus give personal historical depth and a sense of belonging to present lives. Frequent divorces and remarriages challenge this generational transfer, as legal reforms enable valuables to stay with the surviving spouse.
Paper long abstract:
As an answer to societal changes, and the legal challenges that follow from divorce, remarriage and blended families, the latest Danish inheritance law reforms have favoured the horizontal conjugal bond between current spouses with reference to their so-called life companionship. This notion resonates well with modern kinship studies that also focus on kinning as performed and created through common daily practices. On the other hand, formal and fixed understandings of kinship ties also seem to continue a very powerful existence, when it comes to legal rules and inheritance practices, and these point to the importance of vertical transfers between generations. This paper focus on contested norms concerning the significance of the conjugal bond and the generational link when it comes to ideas of what is fair and just. How do people try to balance or dispute these concerns? How are heirlooms disseminated, claimed or quarreled over? What is the role of heirlooms in processes of kinning and de-kinning?
Passing on: the materialisation of kinship