European Kinship in the Age of Biotechnology

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-02-01
  • Publisher: Berghahn Books
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Interest in the study of kinship, once a key area of anthropological enquiry, has been waning for quite some time. However, recently it has been re-emerging, dubbed the new kinship, stimulated by the new genetics that has revived interest in kinship and family patterns. This volume investigates the impact of biotechnology on contemporary understandings of kinship, of family and belonging in a variety of European settings and reveals similarities and differences across Europe in how kinship is conceived. What constitutes kinship for different European publics? How significant are biogenetic links? What does family resemblance tell us? Why is genetically modified food an issue? Are genes and blood interchangeable? It has been argued that the prominence of genetic science and genetic technologies in recent years has resulted in a geneticization of social life, and the ethnographic examples presented here do show shifts occurring in notions of nature and of what is natural. But they also illustrate the complexity of contemporary kinship thinking in Europe and the continued interconnectedness of biological and sociological understandings of relatedness (of, e.g., nature and nurture).

Author Biography

Jeanette Edwards is Professor of Social Anthropology at Manchester University. She has published widely on the implications of new reproductive technologies for kinship both ethnographically and theoretically. She is author of Born and Bred: Idioms of Kinship and New Reproductive Technologies in England (Oxford University Press, 2000) and co-author of Technologies of Procreation: Kinship in the Age of Assisted Conception (Routledge 2nd ed., 1999). She directed the European-funded project 'Public Understanding of Genetics: a Cross- Cultural and Ethnographic Study of the ˘new genetics÷ and social identity'. Carles Salazar is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Lleida. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Ireland and Catalonia (Spain). His publications include A Sentimental Economy (1996, Berghahn) and Anthropology and Sexual Morality (2006, Berghahn) and a number of articles on kinship, sexuality, reproduction and Irish ethnography.

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