At the moment Tatjana is interested in the historical development of knowledge production on kinship and its linkages to policy development. Together with colleagues from history, she initiated with Prof. Erdmute Alber the research group on Kinship and Politics: Rethinking a Conceptual Split and its Epistemic Implications in the Social Sciences.

Here they investigate how the ideas about decline of kinship and its separation from politics in Western history came about. Central to Western self-understanding, these ideas have enormous consequences for research and policy-making. The decline of kinship for example seemed so certain that there was little interest in research outside the realm of “traditional” societies. In the domain of politics the presence of kinship was (and is) seen as something to be exorcised in order to establish rational administrative systems, to mobilise colonial populations and even to destroy terrorist infrastructures. It is behind distinctions between modern and traditional, between Western and “Other” societies.  Their aim therefore is to revisit this conceptual division between kinship and the state and the categories of “politics”, “kinship” and “family”. Thereby they wish to explore the implications of viewing non-Western societies through the lens of kinship, and of excluding kinship from the analysis of Western societies.

Key publication

Thelen, Tatjana (2022) "Stategraphy – A Social Anthropological Approach to the State." In: The State and Statehood in the Periphery / Global South, edited by Miriam Fahimi, Elmar Flatschart and Wolfram Schaffar. Basel: Springer International Publishing. (in press)

Thelen, Tatjana (2022) "German Kinship: Forming a Political Unit and an Epistemic Void." In: The Politics of Making Kinship: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Erdmute Alber, David Sabean, Simon Teuscher and Tatjana Thelen. (accepted for publication)

Thelen, Tatjana and Erdmute Alber (eds.) (2021) "Politics and Kinship: A Reader." Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Thelen, Tatjana, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2018) "Stategraphy: Relational Modes, Boundary Work, and Embeddedness." In: Stategraphy: Toward a Relational Anthropology of the State, edited by Tatjana Thelen, Larissa Vetters and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, 1–19. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.

Tags: Collaborative Project

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