Kinship Systems: Change and Reconstruction
Patrick McConvell, Ian Keen, Rachel Hendery
University of Utah Press, 2013 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 265 pages
Kinship systems are the glue that holds social groups together. This volume presents a novel approach to understanding the genesis of these systems and how and why they change. The editors bring together experts from the disciplines of anthropology and linguistics to explore kinship in societies around the world and to reconstruct kinship in ancient times. Kinship Systems presents evidence of renewed activity and advances in this field in recent years which will contribute to the current interdisciplinary focus on the evolution of society. While all continents are touched on in this book, there is special emphasis on Australian indigenous societies, which have been a source of fascination in kinship studies.
One key argument in the book is that linguistic evidence for reconstruction of ancient terminologies can provide strong independent evidence to complement anthropologists' notions of structural kinship transformations and ground them in actual historical and geographical contexts. There are principles that we all share, no matter what kind of society we live in, and these provide a common “language” for anthropology and linguistics. With this language we can accurately compare how family relations are organized in different societies, as well as how we talk about such relations. Because this concept has often been denied by the trajectories in anthropology over the last few decades, Kinship Systems represents a reassertion of, and advances on, classical kinship theory and methods. Innovations and interdisciplinary methods are described by the originators of the new approaches and other leading regional experts.
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