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Kinship, Law and the Unexpected


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Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. Divided Origins: Introduction: divided origins; 1. Relatives are always a surprise: biotechnology in an age of individualism; 2. Embedded science; 3. Emergent properties; Part II. The Arithmetic of Ownership: Introduction: the arithmetic of ownership; 4. The patent and the Malanggan; 5. Losing (out on) intellectual resources; 6. Divided origins and the arithmetic of ownership; Notes; References; Author index; Subject index.

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Examines Euro-American kinship as the kinship of a specifically knowledge-based society.

About the Author

Marilyn Strathern is William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge. She has carried out fieldwork over several years in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (Melanesia). She is the author of several works including Kinship at the Core, After Nature and Property, Substance and Effect .


'The book is to be recommended to anyone with an interest in kinship, law, biotechnology and general anthropological theory. At the heart of Kinship, law and the unexpected is the enduring anthropological topic of the relation. Indeed the second half of the book frequently implies the importance of relationality in by now well-established anthropological fashion. Only the first half suggests that emphasis on relations may be a consequence of certain knowledge practices. There is perhaps a certain contradiction here, tension at least. But then that is an extremely fruitful tension as Strathern demonstrates with wonderful effect.' 2008 European Association of Social Anthropologists
'Strathern's work has been devoted to the creative redeployment of the discipline's 'conventions' and aesthetic 'constraints', including such contrasts as nature and culture, gifts and commodities, and 'Melanesian' and 'Euro-American' forms of knowledge. At a time when it is fashionable to collapse these dichotomies, the exercise has demanded a considerable degree of analytical care and control on her part. It is Strathern's extraordinary capacity to control these contrasts that has enabled her to show how an anthropological analysis could flow radically differently within its own aesthetic constraints.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

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