CFP: Kinship as Exclusion AAA Panel DUE March 21st

2014 AAA Panel Call for Papers

Kinship as Exclusion

Deadline: March 21st 2014


Geoffrey Hughes (

Sandhya K. Narayanan (


Janet Carsten

Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology

University of Edinburgh

Susan McKinnon

Professor and Chair of Anthropology

University of Virginia

           Discussions of kinship and family, both in popular culture and more scholarly accounts, tend to turn on themes of love, connection and the formation of new social bonds and support networks. This is reflected in anthropological definitions of kinship that emphasize “mutuality of being” or “shared substance.” However, kinship and family also have a darker side: violence, disconnection and the breaking of bonds. Take, for instance, the biblical account of kinship in which the first family (Adam and Eve) produces the first murder (Cain and Abel). What is lost in accounts of kinship when its inclusionary aspects become divorced from its exclusionary aspects? Clearly, it will not suffice to replace the tendency to view kinship as positive with a tendency to view it as negative, but how can research on kinship productively engage with its ambivalence as a social institution? How can we enrich ethnographic accounts of kinship by paying attention to the fact that, when kinship determines the distribution of labor, property and other resources, people may be forced to confront a zero-sum proposition? The provision of care to some people means less care for others; the provision of a share of inheritance may diminish the amount available to others; offers of mutual defense to some could mean the denial of that offer of mutual defense for others. In these situations, what are the factors that help or coerce people to make such divisive decisions? Who is excluded and what exactly are the categories of kin that emerge through kinship’s inclusionary and exclusionary dynamics?  This panel aims to answer these questions by borrowing heavily from both classical anthropological theorizations of kinship as well as new kinship studies, with its useful problematizing of categories like nature, the self and self-interest. We welcome submissions from scholars working across the globe on projects embracing a broad range of classical and contemporary theoretical commitments.

Please send an abstract of 250-300 words to Geoffrey ( and Sandhya ( by March 21st 2014. We will respond to everyone by the 25th.