John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 4 May 1994 14:05:08 JST

Read asks how many of us think that "kinship is boring
garbage"? My own view? Kinship isn't boring garbage. The way
it's presented often is. If you enter the subject through kin
terms and try to keep Crow and Omaha straight in terms of
formal logic, the appeal is limited. If you start from identity
(race, religion, ethnicity, social class, citizenship, succession
to office, etc.) and the observation that (1) to folks all over
the world who I am is largely determined by birth and
marriage; (2) the rules we in our bunch take for granted are
only one of the possible arrangements, and (3) the
consequences are everywhere: in psychology, religion,
literature, art as well as the topics listed above, it turns out
to be a deeply fascinating subject. I'm not, please note, arguing
against the usefulness of formal models; they can sometimes
be very useful indeed. The mistake is presenting kinship in a
way which seems irrelevant to other concerns, when in fact
there's no escaping it.

Cheers, John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)