Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship

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What difference does kinship make to our conception of the conditions of modernity ? Why should kinship matter in an analysis of the ways Italian textile and clothing manufacturers outsource the production of their fashion lines to China? How might attention to kinship illuminate our understanding of the Argentine nation-state and its oil industry? What does it mean that even high-tech, scientific workplaces - like blood banks and pathology labs in Penang, Malaysia - are thoroughly domesticated by relations of kinship and marriage? Can Indian shipyard workers' ideas about kinship, reproduction, and the divine tell us something unexpected about the presumed secular nature of productive labour in the global economy? How do Mormon understandings of kinship and adoption help us reflect on mainstream Protestant and even ostensibly secular ideas of kinship? What can kinship perspectives add to current discussions on secular ethics and claims that we are living in a modern secular age ? For more than 150 years, theories of social evolution, development, and modernity have been unanimous in their assumption that kinship organises simpler, traditional, pre-state societies but not complex, modern, state societies. And they have been unanimous in their presupposition that within modern state-based societies kinship has been relegated to the domestic domain, has lost its economic and political functions, has retained no organising force in modern political and economic structures and processes, and has become secularised and rationalised. Vital Relations challenges these presuppositions. It will be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain a different perspective on the concept of modernity itself, and on the place of kinship and family in modern life.