The Heat of the Hearth: The Process of Kinship in a Malay Fishing Community
Janet Carsten offers a vivid and original investigation of nature and kinship in Malaysia, based on her own experience of life as a fister daughter in a family on the island of Langkawi. Kinship relations are crucial to personal and social identity, and in Malaya culture identity is mutableand fluid: it is given at birth through ties of procreation, but is also aquired throughout life by living together and sharing food. The author shows that the heat of the hearth is not only necessary for the cooking and sharing of food, but central to domestic life, including childbirth andreproduction. Kinship is a process not a state; people become kin largely through the everyday actions of women in and between the households. The incorporation and assimilation of newcomers--`making kinship'--is central to the social reproduction of village communities; domestic life is thuscentral to the political process.Janet Carsten gives the reader a fascinating `anthropology of everyday life', including a compelling view of gender relations; she urges reassessment of recent anthropological work on gender, and a new approach to the study of kinship.
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