Organizers: Department II, Economy & Ritual Group at MPI for Social Anthropology
Venue: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale
Ritual kinship and sponsorship have persisted in changing conditions in many parts of the world. This workshop welcomes papers on its forms, uses, events and ideologies in contemporary, changing situations, with a particular, but not exclusive, interest in postsocialist Europe.
We encourage approaches dealing with the dynamics, reinterpretation, reinvention, or ruptures of what people consider traditional practices of ritual kinship. One widespread form of ritual kinship is godparenthood, but there are many other forms as well. Taken together, these forms of ritual kinship are especially fertile ground for exploring the interconnections between ritual and economy, because existing studies indicate that ritual kinship persists, retaining its spiritual basis, even as it is combined with a variety of economic purposes.
We also welcome papers that situate and analyze historical data collected by local ethnographers and folklorists in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
We seek to explore the following themes:
- Spiritual kinship and sponsorship as social mechanisms for creating and maintaining relationships, through different occasions such as baptism, marriage or circumcision. How do varying choices of sponsors/ spiritual parents and family strategies reinforce existing relationships (like friendship), and/or create new ones? Do economic uncertainties, lead to new strategies of enlarging or reducing kinship relations?
- Ritual kinship as it relates to community and domestic ties. Does ritual kinship create solidarity and/or circulating relationships beyond local communities? Does ritual sponsorship create or repay social debt?
- Ritual kinship in relation to social symmetry/asymmetry, equality/inequalities, sponsorship/reciprocity. What characterizes the social and economic relationships between ritual kin, both before and after becoming kin? Are ritual kin relations better described as vertical or horizontal? Do sponsoring forms of ritual kin (e.g. godparents) occupy a superior position to natural kin (e.g. parents)?
- Beliefs and ideologies related to the spiritual bonds of ritual kinship, including both religious and popular beliefs that connect kinship to broader local models of society and social relations. These might include norms and expectations, social duties, norms of hospitality between kin, obligations of respect, and beliefs related to the transgression of norms (maledictions). Does ritual kinship serve as a metaphor for other social or economic relations (e.g. godparentage in different contexts refers to mafia and patron-client systems, and there are some reports now of “godparenthood capitalism”)? In the context of social change, do people use change or continuity in the ritual kinship system to describe, or order, narratives about the experience of different generations?
- Economic and financial dimensions of ritual relationship. What are the instrumental dimensions of ritual kinship? Are potential kin chosen or changed to increase social capital, gain financial support or employment, change social/economic status, or open economic/political opportunities?
Please submit proposals (max. 300 words) to:
Monica Vasile, email: email@example.com, and
Miladina Monova, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for proposals: February 20th 2011. Decisions about accepted papers will be made by March 18th 2011.
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