Family dynamics and practical kinship in Africa
Joel Noret (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Benjamin Rubbers (Université de Liège)
Start time:
25 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


In a context marked by an increasing economic insecurity and spatial mobility, family dynamics have become a hotly debated issue both in African households and African studies. However, this topic would certainly gain from a focus on the influence of everyday relationships in the re-definition of family roles and networks. By taking practical kinship as a point of departure, this workshop aims at reflecting upon changes (a) in gender identities, (b) in relations between generations, and (c) in the place of extended families, or lineages, in the everyday life of African households. This tri-dimensional focus on practical kinship is meant to allow discussion about larger issues such as trust, respect, reciprocity, domesticity, or belonging. The decline of living conditions and the transnationalisation of families in the last twenty years show just how important a detailed study of these topics is for our understanding of contemporary Africa. The following are possible areas of investigation for this workshop: how various family models, or ideologies, influence actual relationships between relatives? What changes do we observe in the reciprocity practices between generations? How did the definitions of motherhood and fatherhood evolve in the past thirty years? In African societies historically marked by slavery, do past slave relations still matter in the organization of lineages? This list of questions is not exhaustive. The aim of this workshop is to offer empirical data and theoretical insight about family dynamics in Africa. All paper proposals dealing with this subject are welcome.