The workshop invites a critical reconsideration of social practices of ritual kinship from comparative historical and ethnographic perspectives.
The anthropology of kinship is currently being expanded to encompass many kinds of familial and inter-familial connections previously excluded by its traditional focus on natal consanguinity and marital affinity. What was once marginalised as a residual category of fictive kinship or artificial kinship (even pseudo-kinship) is increasingly becoming a focal domain of contemporary kinship studies, including relations by adoption, fostering, nursing and spiritual sponsorship, and by other kinds of ritual or informal association. Christian godparenthood has long provided a privileged forum for examining such alternative kinds of kinship, ever since Mintz and Wolf's pioneering 1950 essay on compadrazgo or spiritual compaternity in Europe and Latin America. This workshop intends to elaborate their comparative ethnographic and historical perspectives by considering a broad range of elective and adoptive kinship. We are interested in rethinking the subjective and analytical status of ritual kinship in social anthropology, as well as reconsidering its structural and ideological connections with changing patterns of natal kinship and marital (or other partnership) practices, treated from the comparative ethnographic and historical perspectives that Mintz and Wolf established. We invite contributions that may explore the diagnostic significance of such alternative kinds of kinship in mediating social and political change, particularly relations of power and inequality.