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Naturalism and the Invention of Identity

Marilyn Strathern

Keywords: European kinship; kin terms; moderns; naturalism; personal identity; relations

Its author ever hopeful of abandoning nature-culture or nature-society, this brief sketch is an attempt to understand some part of the dyad. It fishes among materials on biological relatedness, ideas about reproduction, and configurations of kinship that might amount to a naturalist cosmology, detectable among other things in the problems it generates. There is nothing new in apprehending how much of society was already ‘in’ the nature that came to be distinguished from it. However, the anthropologist’s net has its own gauge, and thus the argument at once depends on historical niceties and disregards them. What gets caught in the mesh flung over this huge area are certain issues concerning identity and individuality. These demand a closer inquiry into the character of the relations being supposed, the matter with which the article opens.

Affiliations

Strathern, Marilyn - Cambridge University