From : Narda Alcantara
To: Doug White
Subject: godelier et al book

"...what has made anthropological kinship analysis distinctive --and different from sociological, historical or social-psychological studies of the family-- is that kinship, for the anthropologists, has always been something more than the family (...) That "something more" has been the whole of social organization articulated by kinship-based structures such as clans, castes, moieties, or marriage classes."

so kinship is about class formation...

"The human past is a vast territory and whatever aids in illuminating it will be of permanent value: kinship has long suggested itself a tool for the elucidation of the ancient civilisations (...) The archive that ethnography has created is large and there is limitless material awaiting elucidation by the anthropological analysis of kinship".

so kinship is also about history... yes! and waiting for more network analysis. i am beginning to think i got to know networks at the right moment.

"Even as anthropology moves off in new directions, students who have not had the benefit of training in kinship analysis clearly will be at a disadvantage in their efforts to understand societies of classic type..."

are you talking to me? not only kinship helps to understand "classic" societies (whatever that might mean), i am persuaded that ALL human agregates are kin-based.

"The intellectual power it gives to the study of gender and the body as a site of social inscription has led to some of the best recent work in hinship analysis, which is implicated in these inquiries".

yes, silvia and i always talk about the strongly "feminist" approach underlying genealogy: contrary to history, genealogical records (kinship history) cannot deny the existence of women. much of the study of genealogy and kinship is based in the fact of bodies being able to give birth to different "qualities" of human beings. these bodies are women's.

and then (beautiful!) comes the difference between the "is" and the "ought" (p.4) i became allergic to kinship study when i realized most kinship analyses were about rules: what about the behaviour? just because in mexico, say, men, as a rule, should take their hats off in the presence of a woman, that doesn't mean it happens every time... and what about the interpretation (prejudice) of the ethnographer about things that he/she imagined? when you have done field work, you KNOW how easy it is to lose track of the reality you intend to describe...

"Do such types of kinship terminology really exist or are they merely constructs of the anthropologists? (...) When we say that types of kinship terminology are not "discovered" empirically but are "constructed", that does not mean that the construction is arbitrary and that the human mind is not guided by empirical facts. (The different types of kinship terminology) are historical and sociological facts created and applied by the human mind in specific historical contexts. They are not the invention of scholars".

now here, i have serious doubts. this is the part of kinship studies that, in my opinion, has to be browsed by people like you, with the know how (software/computer) at hand.

personally, i am more interested in the "hot" kind of kinship: i know the rules are the rules but i am more interested in the facts. i want to know why the rules are modified in relation with bound to earth conditions of existence.

i was enthralled reading the introduction of the book, however, the articles are too "cold" for me.