Kinship, Citizenship, and Belonging (ANTH 1988)




The domains of family life, kinship, and intimacy represent central sites for the construction and contestation of social and political belonging. This course introduces students to classic and contemporary theories of society, kinship, and citizenship by way of theorizing how economic production, sovereignty, and everyday life emerge through the regulation of relatedness. Anthropologists of the late nineteenth century and of the first half of the twentieth century turned kinship into a key domain for understanding social cohesion and political organization. In the past three decades – following feminist, Marxist, and queer critiques – anthropologists explored how discourses about kinship and the family anchored the ideologies and practices of modernity, colonialism, nationalism, and globalization. In this course, we ask: What can various forms of kinship teach us about the politics of social reproduction and the making of citizenship – its modes of belonging and exclusion – in the contemporary world? Why do national and transnational institutions care about how we related to each other, how we build families, and whether we reproduce? Why do we desire that our intimate lives be recognized by the state and by the agents of the global market? And, can our ways of crafting relatedness in everyday life transform how we come to belong to larger political institutions? 
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