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Dear colleagues—and other colleagues

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons | © Marshall Sahlins. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. ISSN 2049-1115 (Online). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.3.013

BOOK SYMPOSIUM

Dear colleagues—and other colleagues

Marshall SAHLINS, University of Chicago

Response to HAU Book Symposium on SAHLINS, Marshall. 2013. What kinship is—and is not. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

I reckon that taken together these excellent reviews exceed the number of words in What kinship is—and is not by a considerable margin. Moreover, considering that the range of these opinions on the proposed notion of kinship as mutuality of being runs from “intuitively graspable” to “fundamentally inscrutable,” the disorder being sown by this small book would seem to qualify it as an exercise in intellectual entropy. At the risk of even greater disarray, here are my comments in no particular order on what seem to me the most serious criticisms raised by the reviewers. Of the generous encomiums I would only say that I am grateful, since I cannot disagree.

***

At issue in Joel Robbins’ comment is an initial confusion between mutuality of being, or what I understand as kinship, and shared consciousness, which he understands as “intersubjectivity.” Robbins claims that I identify mutuality of being with “intersubjectivity,” that these are virtually synonyms in my account. But he immediately proceeds to undermine this claim by citing my uses of “intersubjective” as an adjective qualifying what is actually at stake, shared being. He thus notes my characterization of a kinship system as “a manifold of intersubjective participations”; or again, kinship as “intersubjective relations of being,” inasmuch as “kinfolk are members of one another, intrinsic to each other’s identity and existence” (2013: 312).1 For Robbins, however, intersubjectivity is something less than this existential synthesis of self and other—”living each other’s lives and dying each other’s deaths”—for Robbins, it is simply people’s concordant knowledge of what others have in mind. Hence he defines intersubjectivity “in the usual way as a relationship between minds,” and cites the OED, “which has it as ‘existing between conscious minds’” (ibid.). And since, like many Melanesian peoples, the Urapmin whom he studied deny (in certain contexts) that they know what others are actually thinking, it follows for Robbins that such intersubjectivity is not entailed in their sense of kinship. Rather, Urapmin know mutuality of being only as consubstantiation: a bodily relation, but not a mental one. “What we have in the Urapmin case, as in many other Pacific cases as well, is something like mutuality of being figured as intercor-porality, not as intersubjectivity” (ibid.: 313).

There is something that clutches in this argument from the get-go, since the body-mind distinction that informs it, if familiar from our own folklore, is not pertinent to Melanesian peoples for whom thinking is a corporeal activity emanating from the heart, the intestines, or some such organ. “Herself her guts,” would be the way the New Guinea Korowai profess ignorance of what the person in question is actually thinking (Stasch 2008: 444). But such statements notwithstanding, what is most puzzling is how Robbins’ own claims ignore that intersubjective consciousness is a condition of the possibility of human linguistic communication— and, accordingly of human society in general. Unless people are sufficiently in accord on the meanings of the words they speak—even if they don’t believe they are “true”—there is no possibility of the symbolically constituted sociability in which humans live. So while it is true that intersubjectivity in Robbins’ sense of shared consciousness is a necessary condition of mutuality of being, it is neither a sufficient nor distinctive condition of kinship as opposed to other human social relationships. It also follows that if Melanesians on some occasions display anti-telepathic dispositions, this denial of other “minds” is itself a socially motivated politics of their relationships, something of an appropriate social ideology.

Just so, in an issue of The Anthropologgical Quarterly devoted largely to a symposium organized by Robbins and Alan Rumsey on “the opacity of other minds,” Rupert Stasch shows how the “topic-specific” disavowals of telepathy by Korowai amount to a politics of social circumspection (2008: 444). Stasch writes, “Reflexive models of the possibilities and problems of knowing other minds are also models of the political terms of people’s coexistence” (ibid.: 443). In large part, the politics at issue responds to Korowai ideals of personal autonomy or self-determination. Hence it is conceded that others’ thoughts are their own: that they decide for themselves. In another large part, the antitelepathic ethic does not concern the difficulties of knowing the minds of others so much as it explains, justifies, or avoids the conflicts to which Korowai society is prone. “Korowai lament … that different people want different things and plan different actions, such that they readily fall into conflicts over marriages, food resources, deaths, and any number of other aspects of people’s presence to each other” (ibid.: 448). One may suppose something similar for the Urapmin people studied by Robbins, insofar as in their own optative, bilateral social order, any positive relation of affiliation or exchange with certain persons is a denial of the same with certain others. It is a wise Urapmin who does not know what others are thinking. The alternative would probably be a dysfunctional society of recriminations.

***

Obviously I agree with Maurice Bloch (2013) and his observation that what Michael Tomasello is talking about is a general disposition of human infants to merge self and other in a mutuality of being—a “we-ness” as Tomasello puts it at one point. I agree too that this disposition may be in play in military combat units, choirs, ritual congregations, and various relations of empathy. Moreover, these observations seemingly contradict the claim that mutuality of being is distinctive of kinship, a point that is also argued in Stephan Feuchtwang’s (2013) and Klaus Hamberger’s (2013) reviews. But what I said in this connection about Tomasello’s findings would distinguish kinship from all other such manifestations of the phenomenon, namely that kinship is culturally constituted by the recognition and institution of mutuality of being as such, in its own right:

Everything will depend on what is locally defined as “belonging to one another” … together with the necessary complement of what is different and excluded…. In this view, the work of language and culture is to delimit and differentiate the human disposition to transpersonal being into determinate kinship relations by specific criteria of mutual being…. Kinship may be a universal possibility in nature, but by the same symbolic token, as codified in language and custom, it is always a cultural particularity. (Sahlins 2013: 43–44)

Here’s the procedure: recognize the empathy, isolate it, and differentially signify it—that’s kinship. The cultural institution of mutuality of being in and for itself is the unique quality of kinship. Kinship is the social objectification of transpersonal being, its realization as such in linguistic and cultural terms, as distinct from its functional engagement in support of other kinds of collective activity. In the choir, mutuality is an instrumental means of the collective relations; in kinship, it is the relations.

Bloch’s salutary reminder of the large human potential for intersubjective participation thus helps account for the many ways kinship may be socially constructed, provided the mutuality entailed in the activity at issue is abstracted and discursively recognized for itself. Just so do certain Micronesians who help each other survive an accident at sea, for example, become “siblings of the same canoe,” that is, as the institution of their mutual life-giving ministrations. But if the Inuit likewise form kinship out of surviving a trial by ice, that kind of thing doesn’t happen everywhere.

I find Bloch’s strictures on the methods of determining what kinship is rather less productive. On the one hand, he objects to the derivation of kinship as “mutuality of being” from the reports of English-speaking ethnographers on the grounds that this sense of people being members of one another is an ethnocentric a priori of their own kin relationships. The objection would probably be more interesting if he had explained how the kinship of English speakers differs in this respect from other peoples‘—does it?—and why this distinctive feature has apparently never risen to anthropological consciousness—not even David Schneider’s. On the other hand, if rather to the opposite effect, Bloch objects to the use of indigenous statements “about kinship” (his emphasis) as if these were ontological propositions, on the grounds that people are generally unaware of the knowledge they live by. But in ethnographic fact, the people are not talking about kinship qua kinship; they are talking about their relations to kinfolk—which is not something they are unaware of. The greater part of the evidence at issue consists of people’s statements about their ongoing kin relationships, together with ethnographic observations of the practices thereof, not analytic statements about kinship as a category and concept of related-ness. They are reports of the Karembola man telling of his sister’s son, “I am his mother. He is my child. Born of my belly”; descriptions of Nyakyusa death rites for “driving away the shade,” in which the deceased is told, “Do not return to these your relatives here, you were in their bodies, now you are separate, we have driven you away, you are no relative of ours”; accounts of Ilongot who say that those who share a history “share a body.” Given such ethnographic notices, I merely follow normal anthropological science in deducing the cultural concepts immanent in them—as, coincidentally, in the enlightening observation by Maurice Bloch cited on page 45 of What kinship is:

Many African and Asian peoples say that members of a descent group share the same bones. To say this is not to use a metaphor for closeness; it means exactly what it says in that these people believe that the bones of their body are part of a greater undifferentiated totality. In cases such as these the body is not experienced as finally bounded by the air around it; it is also continuous with the bodies of people who in modern Western ideology could be seen as “others.” … What such bodyness implies is that what happens to other members of your household is, to a certain extent, also happening to you. (Bloch 1992: 75, emphasis in original)

Mutatis mutandis, the same sort of derivation of cultural concepts from indigenous practices marks Bloch’s masterful work, From blessing to violence: History and ideology in the circumcision ritual of the Merina of Madagascar (1986). This study, moreover, has the added theoretical virtue of showing how it was possible for the “ideas” or “symbolism” of the important circumcision ritual to remain essentially unchanged over nearly two hundred years of an eventful history that included the formation of a powerful kingdom, conversion to Christianity, European colonization, a bloody anticolonial revolt, and the stresses of the postcolonial era. Of course there were functional accommodations of the ritual to these events. Yet for all the “dramatically changing circumstances,” Bloch writes, “the symbolic content of the ritual of circumcision has remained remarkably static.” The changes that occurred, he says, were hardly changes at all: either the repetition of certain themes or the elimination of some that are expressed elsewhere (ibid.: 186). In sum, “It can be said quite categorically that no ideas have been added and none taken away as a result of these modifications. If we add this fact to the recognition of the large parts of the ritual that have remained totally symbolically unchanged through the period of nearly two hundred years, we are faced with an extraordinary stability, not to say lack of innovative change” (ibid.:167).

That being the case in his own work, why does Bloch tax What kinship is with the egregious fault of searching for stable and enduring elements in ethnographies where all is process rather than substance, change rather than stasis, and becoming rather than (mutuality of) being? Here is Sahlins positing a “fixed, rock-like element” in cultures that are in “continual movement,” thus vainly “looking for stable, fixed bits” in ethnographies that never repeat themselves. Faced with such extraordinary stability, not to say lack of innovative change, Bloch writes:

Instead I would argue that we should not be looking for stable, fixed bits and that, in any case, these types of things cannot be legitimately found in ethnographies. We should rather think of ethnographies as still snapshots of ongoing processes. The particular pattern found in an immobile snapshot is an artifact of photography, but it is irrelevant to that which is being photographed, since that is in continual movement. In other words, ethnographies should be reconstructing processes and should not attempt to discover static irreducible elements as though anything in culture or society could exist in a fixed form outside process. (2013: 255)

In other words, one cannot step into the same ethnography twice. But then, one is reminded of the apocryphal tradition of the refutation of Heraclitus famous dictum about the flux of reality by his wife Helen, as recounted by the post-Hellenistic philosopher Sebernos Dardanos at the Deutera Polis symposium:

Returning one day from the agora at Ephesus, Heraclitus said to his wife Helen, Helen Heraclitus, “You know, Helen, I discovered something really interesting. Really interesting. I discovered that you can’t step into the same river twice.”

“What d’you mean Heraclitus?”

“Well,” he said. “Suppose you go down to the river, and you put your foot in the water and at the same time you throw a stick in. Then you take your foot out, wait a bit, and put it back in. But the stick has gone downstream, so you didn’t put your foot in the same river. It isn’t the same. You can’t step into the same river twice.”

“Don’t be a fool, Heraclitus,” she said. “You can put your foot in the same river twice.”

“How’s that?” he asked.

“Well,” she said. “You go down to the river and put your foot and a stick in it at the same time. Then you take your foot out and run downstream at the same rate as the stick, and you put your foot in again. You can step into the same river twice.”

He was amazed!!

But according to the anonymous auditor of the Deutera Polis symposium, Helen also added a second, simpler solution:

“Besides, there’s another way you can step into the same river twice,” she said to Heraclitus.

“What’s that?”

“Well,” she said. “You can give the river a name.”

When the news of this conversation reached the good citizens of Ephesus, they decided to give the river that ran by the town a name; they called it “Kaistros.” And so for centuries to come the people of Ephesus were able to step in the same river, the Kaistros, thousands and thousands of times.

The moral: reality is a nice place to visit, philosophically. But no one ever lived there.

***

Then there is biology, or more precisely the common view that kinship is both biology and culture, which I am accused of mistakenly denying more than once in these comments. (It would be interesting to know what percentage is supposed to be biology.) Andrew Shryock says that while tracking the symbolically constituted order of kinship over stale and worn ethnographic trails (while failing to include his area of interest), I cannot “think two ways at once” and accommodate the relevant evolutionary component, including the “social kinship” and “biological kinship” of primates, in my “polemically essential” cultural views.2 Still, I must have at least glanced in the biological direction since some seven out of the eighty-nine pages of this little book are devoted to the social skills of prelinguistic human infants, with some comparison to chimpanzees, and issues of procreation and birth are repeatedly addressed throughout (see also Sahlins 2008, among other relevant writings). But what comes out of such regards is precisely not the sense of a bivariant determination of human kinship, as if some aspects were attributable to biology and some to culture, and still less that kinship is the hypostatized expression of natural-biological relationships. On the contrary, what the evolution of human biology (under cultural selection) has produced is its own negation: a transcendent symbolic capacity, in the various cultural terms of which the sublated biological processes are encompassed and realized. Rather than equivalent “factors,” the relation between culture and biology is hierarchical as well as variable. Recall Clifford Geertz’s felicitous dictum to the effect that we humans have the biological equipment to lead a thousand different lives but we end up living only one. This would only be possible on the condition that human biological dispositions do not specify the particular ways they must be realized. Accordingly, the oft-cited “coevolution” of culture and biology said to mark the advent of Homo sapiens, rather than implying a reciprocal and equal development of both, must have entailed an inverse relation between the advancing variability of culture and the decreasing specificity of biology. The elaboration and diversification of patterns of culture would have to be complemented by the deprogramming of biological imperatives. What all this means for kinship is that there is none that is not discursively constituted.

Still, the “Parenthesis on human nature” in What kinship is has a more radical implication for understanding the contribution of biological relations to kinship: namely, that the privileged role often accorded procreation and birth in constituting kin relationships is itself a cultural creation. Reprise the formula previously deduced from the unique human capacities of transpersonal being: recognize, isolate, and differentially signify mutuality of being—that’s kinship. Note, incidentally, that we are not talking about reciprocity, altruism, or any such relations between subjects. We are talking about the transcendent synthesis of self and other in a third term of dual unity, or indeed of the one and the many in a manifold of intersubjective participations. And although we know people have instituted kin relationships from many different modalities of shared being, from eating together to adopting the same name, it is clear that they very often use relationships of procreation and birth for that purpose. But then, the conjoining of husband and wife in sexual and domestic relations and mother and child in parturition are not only evident pragmatic icons of kinfolk as members of one another; at the same time they are necessary conditions for the reproduction and continuity of society. This indeed is why they are loaded with a host of kindred and classificatory kin relations, well beyond those of parentage, in the form of procreative entities cum social affiliations: the blood, semen, soul, et cetera that, situating the offspring in a network of participations, thus constitute them as social persons. This is also why performative kinship relations often take familial terms. What I am saying is that the empirical and essential qualities of sexual and birth relations as shared being destine them for cultural elaboration as sources of kinship. Hence it is not the value of biological birth relationships that determines the nature of kinship, but the other way around, the nature of kinship as mutuality of being determines the value of biological birth relationships. The derivation of kinship from birth is itself a cultural phenomenon: not only the invention of families, but, as Claude Lévi-strauss says, of kinship as relations between families.

***

Klaus Hamberger raises the interesting question of whether affines can be covered under the definition of mutuality of being, especially in societies where corporate descent groups are considered to be “one person” and their affines something like “different people.” Still, if we shift the perspective from the implied subject position of “own” and “other” to a sociocentric understanding of kinship as a manifold of intersubjective participations, it becomes evident that affines are indeed included in such networks of relatedness. Moreover, they are so by virtue of an affinal relation whose kinship status is generally beyond question, not to say generally beyond notice as affinity: the kinship of the married pair, husband and wife. Although it is sometimes argued that husband and wife are consanguineally related through their offspring, that would make the case for the kinship of affines stronger still. For in the many societies where genitor and genitrix contribute different substances to the fetus, say bone and blood respectively, the father and mother are differently related substantively (consanguineally) to their children. In this respect, they are related complementarily to each other through a third. Under the same dual regime of conception, this is also how cross cousins would be related. And it is again the same kind of mutuality as that which conjoins affines through the mediation of intermarried couple, the wife of one man being sister or daughter to another, et cetera. Indeed, even where affines are categorized as “different people,” they are probably “our own different people,” as distinguished from the unrelated.

So far as I understand Hamberger’s determinations of kinship as the interplay of similarity and difference, consanguinity and affinity, or substitutability and contiguity, none of these “operators” or “logics” of kinship production will specify the distinctive quality of kinship relations. Not only are they unable to account for the transpersonal praxis of kinship: why the pains and joys, accomplishments and failings of the one is felt by kinfolk others—often including those related by affinity. They cannot tell us how it is that kin relations can order economic, political, and other registers of practice in specific ways consistent with their character of shared being. Following Schneider, Hamberger appears to think that this functional deployment of kinship would disqualify it “as a distinct cultural domain”(2013: 306). But without knowing kinship as mutuality of being, it would only disqualify us from understanding why the traditional Fijian formula of requesting goods from another begins with, “Be of good heart, my kinsman, I am in need”; and why no immediate payment in return would be appropriate.3 Or again, without mutuality of being what would be the political sense in the common African or Fijian traditions of the advent of a stranger-prince of exalted ancestry who founds his own kingdom by marrying the daughter of the native chief: an affinal alliance that amounts to a social contract and establishes a dynasty of heirs and successors who thereby combine in their own persons the two essential elements of the polity, the foreign and the indigenous, rulers and subjects, agnates and uterine kin—what indeed would be the sense of that? Conversely, the engagement kinship in the organization of political action—on which more in the next section—affects the manifold of mutualities: hence the specially privileged relationship of the uterine nephew to his mother’s patrilineal kin in many stranger-king polities. Or, what is effectively the same, the pivotal role of the daughter’s son, as in this notice of the charter narrative of West African kingdom of the Yatenga Mossi:

In this part of the narrative devoted to the establishment of a new authority in ostensibly conquered lands, everything happens as if the immigrant chiefs are introduced among the [autochthonous] masters of the earth by the mediation of kinship. In fact those who are commonly called Mossi and who represent the present chiefs are less the enemies of the nyonyose, the autochthons, that they are close relatives. Between the two human groups there exists the same social relations, mutatis mutandis, as between a yagega [daughter’s son] and his grandparents, especially between a daughter’s son and his grandfather. (Zahan 1961: 11)

***

Hey, I did talk about the contradictions and conflicts in the kinship of descent groups and between affines. But I will take the point made by many that in positing diffuse enduring solidarity as the normal subjectivity of kinship, I underplayed the kinship bads in favor of the kinship goods. In particular, Rob Brightman’s insightful text on the perturbations of kinship due to internal and external factors— the frictions that arise within the structure of kin relationships and those that stem from its imbrication in a larger sociopolitical context—suggests attention to a significant dimension of kinship study that is too often overlooked. I mean the politics of kinship in both its internal-structural and external-contextual aspects. Insofar as kinship is functionally engaged in ordering social relations from property to power, kinship studies must go beyond the contemplation of classificatory logics and behavioral norms to the effects of these entanglements on kinship practice.

Internally: aside from the conflicts mentioned in the book—as between affines over the loss of reproductive potential or between lineage mates equal by descent but unequal in access to resources or powers—there are the well-known antagonisms between seniors and cadets in groups ranked by proximity of descent from a common ancestor. For a common example take Austronesian conical clans or ramages. Here are the built-in antagonisms due to what Hilda and clifford Geertz in the Balinese context called “the principle of sinking status” (1975: 124–31), the progressive loss of rank by junior kin over time due to the normal growth of the main ancestral line—which also entails diminishing chances of succession to positions of authority that normally devolve by primogeniture. Hence, the famous Polynesian antagonisms between older and younger brothers, which is also characteristically an opposition between the tapu of the former and the mana of the latter. Brightman notes just such conflicts, as well as their exacerbation by external circumstances of privilege and power:

Hierarchy or conflict may be immanent in kin mutuality itself—as, for example, when conditioned by genealogical distance from founding ancestors or when spousal relations mirror contradictions in affinal exchange. They acquire greater exteriority in proportion as they are effectuated in kin relations by such co-present forms as class or gender asymmetry, or by contingent features of event and biography. (2013: 267)

Externally then, kinship functioning in the contexts of political power, gender politics, class, or ethnic differences, among other such forms and forces, may well qualify normative principles of amity, as Brightman says. To take an extreme: the fratricidal struggles among paternal half brothers contending to succeed their royal fathers in African kingdoms such as Ankole, Zulu, or Azande, among many others. A study of analogous strife among brothers royal in the Fijian principalities of Rewa and Bau during the nineteenth century makes the point that their enmity was redoubled by their embodiment of the political fate of their mothers’ natal chiefdoms (Sahlins 2004). Their own parochial and interpersonal contention was magnified by its instantiation—through mutualities of being—of a regional correlation of competing political forces. In the event, the relevance of the intersubjectivity of kinship was likewise redoubled. For like the common incidence of incest and other crimes against kinship in African or oceanic dynastic traditions, the fratricidal exploits of royal succession struggles, in proving the princely hero is greater than normal society, qualifies him to rule it. When the founder of the ancient Kongo kingdom Ntinu Wene killed his pregnant “aunt” on the way to the establishment of his realm—probably his mother’s sister in this matrilineal system—it proved he was a “real chief” (Balandier 1968: 70).

***

A comparative dynamics of kinship structure was beyond the writ of What kinship is—and is not. But it becomes clear from these reviews that it is needed. As Rob Brightman indicated, even the excellent work being done in the kinship of modern reproductive technologies, here exemplified in the comments of Janet Carsten (2013) and Jeanette Edwards (2013), by and large has yet to connect with the great anthropological tradition of cross cultural comparison—which is also to say, with the rich ethnographic literature compiled over the last 150 years. That comparative tradition of kinship studies is still alive, especially in France in the magisterial works of Francoise Heritier and Maurice Godelier and in America in the similarly important studies of Thomas Trautmann, Robert McKinley, and Gillian Feeley-Harnik—among others in both countries and elsewhere. Hopefully, What kinship is can make some contribution to these endeavors, insofar as the dialectical permutations, adaptations, and transformations of mutualities of being, occasioned by the engagement of kinship in various sociopolitical contexts, can be brought into account.

References

Balandier, Georges. 1968. Daily life in the kingdom of the Kongo: From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. New York: Pantheon Books.

Bloch, Maurice. 1986. From blessing to violence: History and ideology in the circumcision ritual of the Merina of Madagascar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

———. 1992. Prey into hunter: The politics of religious experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

———. 2013. “What kind of ‘is’ is Sahlins’ ‘is’?” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 253–57.

Brightman, Robert. 2013. “Hierarchy and conflict in mutual being.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 259–70.

Carsten, Janet. 2013. “What kinship does—and how.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 243–51.

Edwards, Jeanette. 2013. “Donor siblings: Participating in each other’s conception.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 285–92.

Feuchtwang, Stephan. 2013. “What is kinship?” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 281–84.

Hamberger, Klaus. 2013. “The order of subjectivity.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 305–7.

Robbins, Joel. 2013. “On kinship and comparison, intersubjectivity and mutuality of being.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 309–16.

Sahlins, Marshall. 2004. Apologies to Thucydides: History as culture and vice versa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

———. 2008. The Western illusion of human nature. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

———. 2013. What kinship is—and is not. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shryock, Andrew. 2013. “It’s this not that: How Marshall sahlins solves kinship.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (2): 271–79.

Stasch, Rupert. 2008. “Knowing minds is a matter of authority: Political dimensions of opacity statements in Korowai moral psychology.” Anthropological Quarterly 81 (2): 443–53.

Zahan, Dominique. 1961. “Pour une histoire des Mossi du Yatenga.” L’Homme 1 (2): 5–22.

 

 

Marshall Sahlins
Department of Anthropology
University of Chicago
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IE 60637, USA 773-702-7701
msahlins@uchicago.edu

___________________

1. Scanning What kinship is—and is not, I find only three instances of the noun “intersubjectivity,” two having to do directly with the transfer of being in magic and one, “the cultural order of intersubjectivity,” referring to the animistic like in the work of Viveiros de Castro. This as compared to the numerous uses of “intersubjective” modifying mutuality of being. So far as I can judge, nowhere in the book is the concept employed in Robbins’ more restricted sense of knowing others’ minds.

2. I do not recognize the views that Shryock alleges I expressed in response to questions posed after a lecture I presented at the University of Michigan. At any rate their appearance in his review is inappropriate, since I was not informed that in answering questions I was speaking for publication, let alone professional publication. I believe such methods would not pass a university IRB (Institutional Review Board) on the use of human subjects.

3. In a recent publication, I mentioned how I used to épater la bourgeoisie during the McCarthy era by lecturing on Lewis Henry Morgan’s characterization of the familial economy as “communism in living”—from each according to his or her ability, to each according to his or her need. I suggested to the students that if they were afraid of communism they shouldn’t go home.