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The journal Kinship offers a scholarly site for research publications dedicated to the ethnography and theory of kinship and covers current systematic efforts using new data or new ideas, including the use of these data and ideas to revisit and rework earlier assumptions in the field. It covers a wide range of kinship-based cross-cultural practices ranging from incest to marriage, to avoidances, to kin terms, to succession, to contemporary forms of motherhood, fatherhood, and family, and more. The journal Kinship, as the design of the front cover seeks to convey, is dedicated to the study of kinship in all of its facets, is international in scope, and will publish original work in English, though publications in other languages will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Issue cover


Introduction to Volume 2, Issue 1

Introduction to the current issue of Kinship.

What is Kinship About? Again. Critique of the Cambridge Handbook of Kinship, Edited by Sandra Bamford

The world of anthropology has witnessed a recurring rhetorical title:“What Is Kinship All About?” and now this article titles itself “What is Kinship All About? Again.” Why? Whereas we have over a century’s worth of ethnography and theory focusing on the centrality of kinship in human society and in anthropological theory, in 2019 a Handbook is published that names itself “Kinship” but, despite its claim and to the contrary, it is not about kinship at all. The Handbook editor explicitly states that it is about “conceiving kinship,” with kinship reduced to gendered social relatedness. In response, we re-affirm the centrality of kinship as a domain universal in human societies by way of a critique of the Handbook and a comprehensive review of its contributing chapters. Countering the Handbook’s denialist — or in Harold Scheffler’s famous term, dismantling — position, we bring to the fore the already determined universal properties that define the boundaries of the kinship domain and the logical properties that uni-versally define the category of kinship.

La kafala intrafamiliale : Une alternative pour produire des liens de parenté chez les couples algériens en quête d’enfant

Dans cette présente étude, nous souhaitons appréhender sur le terrain algérien la kafala intrafamiliale mobilisée par les couples stériles face à l’absence d’enfant. Les couples algériens en quête d’enfant qui, après avoir tenté naturellement, puis par le biais de la médecine reproductive (la PMA), d’avoir un enfant, ont finalement pris la décision d’adopter un enfant au sein de leur parenté, par voie de la Kafala. Il s’agit principalement de montrer la façon  dont cette démarche est mobilisée pour réaliser leur projet parental et créer le lien de parenté.

Intrafamilial kafala: An alternative to produce family ties among Algerian couples looking for a child

Based on a qualitative study carried out among Algerian couples who, after having tried natu-rally, then through reproductive medicine (AMP), to have a child, have made the decision to adopt a child within their relatives, this article questions how infertile couples have coped with the absence of a child from a point of view of kinship logics. In other words, it is a question of understanding how the intrafa-milial kafala is mobilized to produce family ties. The analysis of the semi-structured interviews showed that the child's own parents agree to show solidarity to couples affected by infertility, being family mem-bers, through a kafala application signed before a notary. In this logic of kinship, the kafil parent devel-ops a sense of attachment to the Makfoul child. This practice is a restorative solution to the absence of a child allowing them to perform all parental functions.

Yet another view of Trobriand kinship categories, from optimality to conceptual structure

In “Another view of Trobriand kin categories,” Lounsbury analyzes Trobriand kin terms by providing a core genealogical definition for each term, and then showing how a set of reduction rules make it possible to supply terms for more distant relatives. This article revisits Lounsbury’s analysis in the light of recent advances in linguistics and cognitive science. We show that Trobriand kin terms express a conventionalized tradeoff between expressing relevant information and avoiding marked forms. Formally, we follow Optimality Theory in developing a constraint-based approach, an alternative to Lounsbury’s derivational approach, in which reduction rules are not just stipulated but derived. Kin terms are polysemous, with core and extended senses: a collection of markedness scales and a ranked set of distinctive features (1) marshal core referents of kin terms, and (2) select optimal, best-fit terms for kin types outside the core. Apart from its formal merits, this approach clarifies the connection between the Trobrianders’ Crow-type kin terminology and their matrilineal institutions. It may also have implications for the “the Crow-Omaha problem” – the relationship between skewed and unskewed cross-parallel distinctions. Finally, the organization of kin terms may provide a window onto an evolved domain of conceptual structure: our discussion concludes with some thoughts on the relationship between kinship, genealogy, and biological relatedness.

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Revisiting Kohler, Gifford and Rivers: Secondary marriages and Crow-Omaha terminologies

It is now well over a century since Gifford (1916) and Rivers (1914) invoked certain second marriages as an explanation for Crow-Omaha (C-O) terminologies, and even further from Josef Kohler’s initial attempt (1897; translated 1975) to marshal such an explanation for the Omaha themselves. In this paper, I wish to revisit these ideas with reference to a wider body of literature. This literature has only appeared since these three scholars wrote, though none of it is very recent. I shall end by arguing that these practices can be seen as modified forms of the sororate and levirate as conventionally understood.