What need is there for kinship? What good is it anyway? The questions are as old as anthropology itself, but few answers have been persuasive. Kinship systems can contribute to our enslavement, but more often, they permit, channel and facilitate our relations with others and our further fashioning of ourselves - as kin, but also as subjects of other kinds. When they do, they are among the matrices of our lives as ethical beings. Each contributor to this innovative book treats his or her own alterity as the touchstone of the exploration of an ethnographically and historically specific ethics of kinship. Together, the chapters reveal the irreducible complexity of the entanglement of the subject of kinship with the subject of nation, class, ethnicity, gender and desire.
James Faubion is associate professor of anthropology at Rice University.