The Anthropology of Chinese Kinship. A Critical Overview
TL;DR: In this paper, a critical overview of the anthropology of Chinese kinship focusing on the twentieth-century Euro-American literature is presented, focusing on early literature of the period before the foundation and closure of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.
Abstract: This is a critical overview of the anthropology of Chinese kinship focusing on the twentieth-century Euro-American literature. I first deal with the less well-known early literature of the period before the foundation and closure of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. I then show how the thematic and theoretical heterogeneity of this early literature was superseded during the 1960s and 1970s by a powerful but reductive paradigmatic lineage model of Chinese kinship and society, largely derived from documentary-based studies of lineage organisation in the late imperial period and consolidated through field research in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Inspired by earlier critics of this lineage-model, tuned in to new anthropological trends in the field of kinship studies and triggered by the post-Mao opening of the PRC, the 1990s marked the beginning of a very heterogeneous cycle of renovation generated by new field research. Seen as a whole, this current cycle of renovation has been undertaking a revision of the older descent-centred comparative view of Chinese kinship and is giving important insights to current anthropological debates about the nature of human kinship.
Cites background from "The Anthropology of Chinese Kinship..."
...An entire overview of the anthropology of Chinese kinship theory will not be attempted here, as this has already been provided in a comprehensive article by Santos (2006)....
...However, as Santos (2006) points out, Freedman’s publications coincided with the peak of Maoism and the period in which mainland China was largely inaccessible to foreign researchers, and as such these two monographs constituted an endeavour in ‘armchair anthropology’....
...This began with what Santos (2006) categorised as a plethora of differing approaches to kinship, leading to the gradual dominance of Freedman’s lineage paradigm, followed by a period of uncertainty as to the significance and validity of kinship studies, and the subsequent re-emergence of these…...
Related Papers (5)