Anti-Family Fantasies in “Cutting-Edge” Anthropological Kinship Studies

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    Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society, or, Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery, through Barbarism to Civilization (London: MacMillan & Company, 1877).

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    Robert H. Lowie, Primitive Society (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920); Bronislaw Malinowski, The Family among the Australian Aborigines (London: University of London Press, 1913); and Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage (New York: McMillan, 1891).

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    Harold W. Scheffler and Floyd G. Lounsbury, A Study in Structural Semantics: The Siriono Kinship System (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971).

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    David J. Banks, “Malay Kinship Terms and Morgan’s Malayan Terminology: The Complexity of Simplicity,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 130, no. 1 (1974): 44–68.

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    Frederick Engels, The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State: According to the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan (1884; New York: International Publishers, 1972).

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    Morgan, Ancient Society, 59; Engels, Origins of the Family, 120.

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    Susan McKinnon, “On Kinship and Marriage: A Critique of the Genetic and Gender Calculus of Evolutionary Psychology,” in Complexities: Beyond Nature and Nurture, ed. Susan McKinnon and Sydel Silverman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 106–31.

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    As stated on its website (, the “Wenner-Gren Foundation has three major goals—to support significant and innovative anthropological research into humanity’s biological and cultural origins, development and variation, to foster the creation of an international community of research scholars in anthropology, and to provide leadership at the forefronts of the discipline.”

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    Janet Carsten, “The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feeding, Personhood, and Relatedness among Malays in Palau Langkawi,” American Ethnologist 22, no. 2 (May 1995): 223–41; The Heat of the Hearth: The Process of Kinship in a Malay Fishing Community (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997).

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    Carsten, Heat of the Hearth, 18.

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    Jane F. Collier, Michelle Z. Rosaldo, and Sylvia Yanagisako, “Is There a Family? New Anthropological Views,” in Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions, ed. Barrie Thorne and Marilyn Yalom (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992), 31–48.

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    Yolanda Murphy and Robert F. Murphy, Women of the Forest (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974). Further references to this work will be cited within the text. Robert F. Murphy, Headhunter’s Heritage: Social and Economic Change among the Mundurucú Indians (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960).

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    Engels, Origins of the Family, 113, 137.

  14. 14.

    See, for example, Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000); Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995); and Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

  15. 15.

    See, for example, my “What Human Kinship Is Primarily About: Toward a Critique of the New Kinship Studies,” Social Anthropology 16, no. 2 (June 2008):137–53; “New Misdirections in Kinship Studies,” Quadrant 52, no. 10 (October 2008): 61–63; “A (P)lot of Marxist Crop: A Review Article,” International Journal of Sociology of the Family 35 (2009): 123–41; “‘Logocentrism’ in Feminist Kinship Studies,” Quadrant 54, no. 6 (June 2010): 77–79; “The Nuclear Family Versus the Men’s House: A Re-examination of Mundurucú Sociality,” Anthropological Forum 21, no.1 (March 2011): 57–75; and “What Is Malay Kinship Primarily About? Or, the New Kinship Studies and the Fabrication of Ethnographic Fantasy,” in Kinship, Language, and Prehistory: Per Hage and the Renaissance in Kinship Studies, ed. Doug Jones and Bojka Milicic (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2011), 141–51.

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Correspondence to Warren Shapiro.

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Shapiro, W. Anti-Family Fantasies in “Cutting-Edge” Anthropological Kinship Studies. Acad. Quest. 25, 394–402 (2012).

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  • Nuclear Family
  • Kinship Study
  • Adopted Child
  • African American Study
  • Foster Mother