City: Konstanz
Organiser: Tatjana Thelen and Christof Lammer
Venue: University of Konstanz

(Panel at the GAA-Conference 2019 at the University of Konstanz)

It has become a truism in anthropology that kinship is negotiated. The idea that kinship is a universal human relation that links people even without their knowledge is neverthel- ess gaining persuasive power. Based on this assumption, diverse technologies are being developed and applied to measuring kinship in order to achieve closure in negotiations of relatedness. For example, the routine application of paternity tests and genomic testing seems to put an end to insecure identities and ethnic or national belonging. The increasing importance of such ‘proofs’ of kinship to diverse claims to inclusion and entitlement, displays an interesting tension. At a time when the seeming voluntariness of ‘new’ family forms is celebrated as an expression of tolerance and supposedly declining importance of kinship in ‘modern’ societies, the ‘end of negotiation’ could increasingly sustain and consolidate a naturalization of social and political inequalities.

This workshop sets out to interrogate the enduring — or even increasing — importance of kinship, as well as its practical and epistemological consequences. First, we seek to discuss ways in which ideas of kinship evolve and are translated into diverse scientific, bureaucratic and legal technologies for testing, measuring and modelling kin relations. Secondly, we are interested in the consequences of converting degrees of kinship into (at least temporarily) non-negotiable facts: such determinations often entail obligations (e.g., care, knowledge of health risks or financial support) and entitlements (e.g., to inheritance, citizenship, family reunification, affirmative action or insurance and compensation payments). Thus, we invite contributions that examine the development and application of technologies that aim at establishing the truth of kinship and discuss their wider implications.

Call for Papers