Dmitri Bondarenko: "The State and Ideology of Kinship"

September 27, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Anthropology Colloquium Series

Dmitri Bondarenko 

 Deputy Director for Research, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Professor, Center of Social Anthropology, Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow

"The State and Ideology of Kinship"


With the transition to the state, kinship ceases to be the central organizing principle of society. However, the very social nature of kinship provides the opportunities for manipulating it as ideology in societies of all types. It was typical for early states to represent the state and the sovereign by analogy with the family and its head. Not infrequently the same connotations are exploited for the sake of power’s legitimation in modern states. However, the ideology of kinship’s exploitation in states should not be confused with the cases of completely another sort. In some societies where the overall complexity level is not lower than that of early states (in “alternatives to the state”), one can observe the whole socio-political construction’s encompassment not from above (as it must be in states) but from below – from the local community level, while the community itself is underpinned by kin ties. Here kinship is not only ideology but also the real socio-political background. So, there is no direct conformity between the socio-political (transition to the state) and ideological (departure from the ideology of kinship) processes and this seemingly clear fact should be acknowledged and given due attention by researchers.


Location and Address

3106 WWPH Anthropology Lounge