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Kinship Matters. Tribals, Cousins, and Citizens in Southwest Asia and Beyond

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2010
Author Walentowitz Saskia & Conte Édouard,
Project Feeding dilemmas. Anthropological perspectives on infant feeding, policies and science in contexts of HIV
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Études Rurales
Page(s) 217 - 248
Title of proceedings Études Rurales


The authors draw attention to the epistemological ambivalence inherent to the term 'tribe' and question the division of societies in which Islam is widely recognized into tribal and non-tribal sectors. They test hypotheses meant to show how an alternative theory of kinship and transgenerational reproduction can contribute to provide non-teleological and non-discriminatory explanations of processes related to the construction of social and political proximity beyond the family vs state dichotomy. The key Arabic concept of nasab, and its analogues, is here understood as the constantly recreated articulation of convergent structural and historical processes that retrospectively guarantee the validity of claims of origin by the linkage over time of sibling sets through marriage by permutation (badal) as well as the recognition of individual and collective affiliations, including paternity and citizenship. Further, this article stresses the necessity of developing a comprehensive theory of kinship in order ro counter the hijacking of the social sciences by neoevolutionist and neoconservative actors who represent 'Muslim societies' through an amalgamation of 'endogamy', 'incest', and "terror'.