Policing the Family

Term: Fall 2010

Subject Code: GANT

Course Number: 6106

The study of kinship has wandered off anthropological syllabi just as it assumes ever greater significance within contemporary (often dystopic) political debates on the societies produced by different kinds of families. This course will examine specific debates and new dilemmas produced by the ever heightened emphasis on the family in contemporary life across the globe, and, introduce students to a sustained reading of anthropological and social theory through the prism of kin, intimacy, fantasy, and regulation of appropriate sexuality. Theorists that will be read in a sustained fashion will be Sigmund Freud, Jacques Donzelot, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Anthony Giddens and Marilyn Strathern. They will be read in tandem with historical and anthropological work on themes ranging from the imperial regulation of the intimate, the harem in European ideas of sovereignty, bio-genetic imaginations, the rise of particular forms of modernity as forms of love, the entanglements of kin and property, debates on caring,  to the impact of new reproductive technologies among others. Firstly, the course will focus on kinship and intimacy as distinct structures of recognition that generate their own ambivalence, anxiety, comfort, and excitement. Secondly, it will locate how talking, thinking, doing and imagining how people are “properly” related to each other  (as well as potential transgressions) are central to imaginations of the social itself.  This will also initiate a larger debate on the nature of social change. Thirdly, the course will acquaint students with a precise and calibrated entrypoint into social theory. 

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