"An impressive set of papers that must be read by everyone concerned with integrating material objects into their analyses of complex cognitive aspects of culture. This sublime collection reflects the cutting edge of a mature discipline."—Journal of American FolkloreBeyond Kinship brings together ethnohistorians, archaeologists, and cultural anthropologists for the first time in a common discussion of the social model of house societies proposed by Claude Levi-Strauss. While kinship theory has been central to the study of social organization, an alternative approach has emerged—that of seeing the "house" both as a physical and symbolic structure and a principle of social organization.
"Lévi-Strauss's latter-day thinking on houses and house societies offers an antikinship kinship theory that puts a new slant on time, family, and hierarchy. Skillfully edited by Joyce and Gillespie, the volume Beyond Kinship illustrates the breadth of investigations into history, people, and place that Lévi Strauss's formulation makes possible."—Current Anthropology
The house stands as a model social formation that is distinguished by its attention to a number of material domains (land, the dwelling, ritual and nonritual objects). As the essays in this volume make clear, the focus on material culture and on place contributes to the ongoing convergence of anthropology and history and helps erase the artificial distinctions between prehistory and history.
Contributions to the volume offer significant new interpretations of primary data as well as reconsidering classic ethnographic material. Beyond Kinship crosses the boundaries within anthropology—not only between cultural anthropology and archaeology but between structural—symbolic and materialist approaches and between American and British schools of anthropology; it is intended to advance the fruitful dialogue now taking place within the field.
Rosemary A. Joyce is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the coeditor of Social Patterns in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica and of Women in Prehistory: North America and Mesoamerica, available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Susan D. Gillespie teaches anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of The Aztec Kings: The Construction of Rulership in Mexica History.