m of care – mar 10

WHAT KINSHIP IS’, BY MARSHALL SAHLINS [https://museum.care/events/what-kinship-is-by-marshall-sahlins/]

hosted by ellen judd: In response to the interest in our group of exploring Marshall Sahlins’ work further, I am suggesting that we look at some of his later work—on the mutuality of being. This shows a deep connection with David Graeber’s work and with long lines of thought on mutuality in the anarchist tradition.  It is presented as a refiguring of the study of kinship, a central field in anthropology, and I am confident that all in this group will recognize the connections and points at which this resonates with David Graeber’s work. I am hopeful that this will give us an opportunity to explore how related threads appear in the earlier work of both David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins. The attention of these articles to preceding thought in anthropology may resonate with the interest and expertise in philosophy of members of our group. ‘This, then, is what I take a ‘kinship system’ to be:  a manifold of intersubjective participations, founded on mutualities of being.’

Suggested readings, two parts, are available here  (18 pg – what kinship is p1) and there (16 pg – what kindship is p2)

my notes here: what kinship is


notes/quotes from pre meeting on nika on war et al:

some of david’s work on war via nika: [https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1gimJxtmg8Z3n3ZKQcbjxbgSpfUH1Zrrv]

nika: texts mostly about stupidity of power.. and his mom on feminism.. kinship/sovereignty also relate to idea of war.. and understanding of human society of being eternally bad.. wanting to fight that we have to overcome thru civ.. and this constant war that could break into horrible ones or less brutal police actions

david on war

nika: and we watched 4 movies.. 3 about nam.. 1 about the world inscription of war – the majors of the world

nika: 2 major points (i have questions about).. started w this enlightenment idea.. direct correlation to stupidity of power.. not doing the interpretive work..

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

nika: nam movie.. he was young.. 20 yrs old.. we’ll have these movies in the email.. also a short movie about mao books.. that is funny and i think david would love it

vassily: a reflection you also see in graeber’s work on violence and B.. an interesting tract to follow

nika: next week.. gather with some people a 5 min talk about david’s text about war.. then do assembly open to everyone.. w/o talking the current war at all..

nika: for discussion i’ll invite ukranian and kurdish people.. but i think we should refrain from talking about war.. important to talk about what’s going on .. but have to have a safe space.. out of propaganda mode.. where against each other.. and they can’t listen to each other..

nika: does anybody want to prep a short talk.. 3 people who can speak for couple minutes.. on david’s and on movies.. don’t need to summarize.. link them.. should be obvious.. ie: putin making bad comments.. similar to way david described war would be.. the stupidity of not knowing people so being violence/power over them.. what kind of peace agreement..

but what i get from david is.. is that enough.. what would peace be like if it wasn’t just about truce ness.. david on war

simona: on americans being used to debate.. and teaching it in enlightenment.. but then with traditions.. i think i can work on this idea.. on being inside one truth or being an enemy

michael: on david not talking on war but on ie: exchange via violence.. warfare.. global international relationships

the very principle of exchange emerged largely as an effect of violence – –david graeber  from debt book

[vassily in chat: I’ve added The Origins of War in the folder; it’s a really good book]

nika: so important to meet in person.. we should fly somewhere all together.. in late august..


notes/quotes from what kinship is:

ellen: how sahlins connects w graeber.. sahlins one of leaders in american anthro.. i think kinship is unavoidable when we want to reconstruct the world we live in

ellen: what anthro is really all about is the challenge of living together in the world w other people.. anthro asks how we could go about doing that.. sahlins is shifting the idea of kinship into mutuality.. resonates w the end of theory of value.. graeber & sahlins talking about same thing.. but in different ways.. so can help us to see what we don’t from contrasts

theory of value

ellen: david looks via political/econ structures.. sahlins via kinship.. sahlins saying there are somethings that escape our understanding if just in econ terms..

ellen: my background.. lifelong practice of ethnography.. and a concern for transforming world we live in.. i was young in 68.. how do people do these transformations.. ie: i went to china.. what i found in villages.. changes of political econ were expressed thru fams/households/communities.. so .. expressed very heavily in terms of kinship.. need to understand how people to relate to other people everyday.. then people closest to them.. i think this is part of what sahlins is getting at

ellen: some of the texts were very dense and anthro.. so going to give a little context.. 1\ kinship is definitely not biology ie: built in adoption fostering et al.. based on who closest too now bio relations.. 2\ shared culture

ellen: a lot of anthro about how we reflect w others about world w live in.. culture vs sociology focus.. sahlins takes view of culture only part of distance graeber does.. on how sociology is basic.. on how we have to have this capacity to sociology.. so mutuality at center.. but also completely social

ellen: sahlins has idea of culture being deeply embedded in ourselves.. inside ourselves.. so in a culture and now aware of it.. beyond our control.. would be act of hubris to assume we are aware..

ellen: one thing about sahlins that make him extreme.. student of leslie white.. talked about culture in an evolutionary context ie: evolution of culture; mans control over civ – an anthro delusion; .. on being captured w/in.. and it’s the human scale ness that the two david’s are critical of

ellen: sahlins seeing culture as outside our control but very variable.. so sahlins saying sociology mutually constituted.. which bits of ourselves are we giving to others.. whether or not bio related.. and you incorporate into yourself someone you really care about.. ‘dividual’ ness.. not one sealed envelope of self/person.. various parts of self in others and them in us

the it is me ness.. but i’m never just me

ellen: there’s a question here about the limits of what we can do.. we may have more limits than we think.. things we can’t change.. we want to be optimistic.. but some things not so easily (?).. it’s good to be realistic about what we’re facing

yike.. i think we have way less.. if we get out of sea world.. but yeah.. if we stay in sea world.. can’t change much..

simona: something david wrote in intro for how.. the greek tradition of anthro is what emerges when you are obliged to invent new concepts or use old words for something totally new.. maybe kinship can be seen as one of the concepts.. i was thinking role of myth/imagination.. in collective imagination and imaginary relationship.. in fragments.. imagination looks like .. a place we collab our mutual creation.. so.. yes.. we are not in control.. but it’s something we work on togethers.. so i think there is a conscious refusal.. and at same time.. you are aware of the frames of some pieces of what you are.. and i think this awareness is something you have to conquer all the time.. and you conquer when in totally diff experiences/frames..

[vassily in chat: Talking about HAU: this book – like many of Sahlins’s books – raised a lot of debates, including here https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/issue/view/hau3.2]

ellen: culture is a complicated thing.. we have these capacities to imagine.. express in words.. share potentiality.. have it understood and responded to.. that’s what we’re doing right now.. trying to understand what each other shares.. if doing at greater extent.. we would come out of this changed.. this thinking together.. thru capacities of language/listening/understanding.. so that it’s something we create together w others

hmm.. not sure

ellen: to avoid turning these creative things into commodities.. to de fetishize culture.. and leave in it the mutuality of interpersonal relationships.. more tools for thinking of who we are and how we make the world we live in.. that is very liberating.. it’s all a difficult/slow process.. changing people’s ideologies et al..

rob: on possibility of way out of culture.. guy who went thru 3 languages.. to get free of that

idiosyncratic jargon ness

[vassily in chat: More about Sahlins’s views on culture: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H73x1fE6uTh3ybiLzUl6ivLXAsrfJnJe/view?usp=sharing]

[vassily in chat: A talk by David Graeber on culture (I assume everybody has seen that): https://davidgraeber.org/videos/artist-taxi-driver-curates-culture-is-not-your-friend/]

[rob shares in chat book he was referring to: Le Schizo et les Langues von Louis Wolfson (erschienen 1971)]

vassily: i was surprised there wasn’t more about reciprocity.. 3 circles of reciprocity.. that i think is really important to kinship..

ellen: i think reciprocity really important..

? maybe i’m misinterpreting both of them.. but to me.. reciprocity ness as red flag

vassily: we should continue this discussion on sahlins and culture and interp work

nika: i would also be interested in looking at at kings and sovereignty and war..

on kings.. sovereignty.. war





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