Volume 60, #2 // April 2018

In this issue authors address the question of how putatively universal rules—imperial dictates, state laws, economic regimes, and consequential categories of social life like “religion,” “the market” and “indigeneity”—are translated into local vernaculars and adapted to local sites and singular needs. The process is rarely without friction, resistance, cost, or contest. To take a hydraulic metaphor, the essays offer a comparative viscosity of the force and limits of
flow. When standardizing classifications infill regional uses and users, what sorts of detours, dams, floods, and muddied waters follow? What new springs irrupt?

Making Kinship Bigger: Andrew Shryock in Conversation with Golfo Alexopoulos, Nadav Samin, David Henig, and Gísli Pálsson

One of the tall tales of modernity goes like this: as human societies become more complex — more industrial, urban, mass mediated, and public — the importance of kinship as an organizing principle decreases. The rule is invoked in multiple settings, often with a judgmental spin. Seldom does an identity narrative seem so self-evidently true and false at the same time. If we were to flip it, keeping its exaggerated feel but reversing the implications, the story might sound like this: claims about the diminishing significance of kinship (and its radically changing forms) have ethical weight because they are contested, very often inaccurate, and based on aspirations that are hard to realize in everyday life because ideas of relatedness are so important to us. Is this an improved version of the tall tale, or evidence that we need to tell a different kind of story altogether?