Kinship and Relation to Modern Times

The concept of Kinship as defined by anthropologist is a web of social relationships that are very important for most human societies. In the book by Linda Stone, Kinship and Gender: An Introduction the topic of kinship in differing societies is on display, allowing the reader the opportunity to evaluate different forms of kinship as well as gender treatment other than the “social norm“ we are used too . There are several examples that through the course of this class have stood out due to being prime learning examples of the structure of various kinship relationships throughout history as well as across the current world.

A very important issue that was addressed is the fact that our own culture within American society is massively different depending on varying factors such as family marital status, size of family (such as being raised by a single parent as an only child versus being raised by both parents in a large household) , area where raised, etc. When you take a look at just how our own society works it’s easy to get a better understanding of our own neighbors by comparing and contrasting our differing situations.

Various cases are compared and contrasted throughout all of Stone’s book. By looking at case studies so different from our own society it’s clear to see just how many radical changes from our treatment of Kin to other societies’ treatment of their own. A clear example of this is found in the case of the Nuer and the Nepalese Brahman tribes. Both of these groups had very radically different treatment of women as well as the amount of sexual autonomy they received. Also the amount of power matriarchal and patriarchal figures received was immense and demonstrated a lot about how both cultures respected their elders. After reading about both of these cases it’s easy to begin to compare their society to our own, such as how the head of the family gets a large sum of respect like in American culture.

Another very important historical kinship that stood out was the various relationships of Julius Caesar and how the helped him grow to be one of the most powerful men in history. By having so many different marriages as well as becoming close with allies and enemies through family marriages show how easily one can manipulate the power of kinship and relations to gain something desired. The specific case was an excessively large one allowing for an extreme amount of power gain. In Caesar’s case, he not only used himself and his own kinship ties to gain power but he also used his children to gain alliances, by forcing them to marry and sometimes soon there after divorce a rival family simply for political gain when necessary. This also shows an example of often times the little worth of children in Ancient Rome. Although to many this may seem terribly manipulative on the parents part, it’s not too wildly different from modern day “arranged” marriages between wealthy families in the United States to help make sure their children marry someone else from a well off family.

It is shown throughout all of Stone’s book that throughout the history of the world, as well as around the globe today there have been hundreds if not thousands of varying examples of kinship. Some examples are variations on kinship we are currently familiar with while others are so completely different and radical compared to our own they may even be hard to comprehend. Although they may all seem so different if we simply all came together to get a better understanding of each other than maybe things would be a change in a positive way for our society.

by Quinn Slatic

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