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Metaphors of kinship and performativity of symbols

Metaphors of kinship and performativity of symbols

Ryan Schram

ANTH 2654: Forms of Families

3 September 2015

Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/2654/6

Lecture outline

  • The social construction of reality
    • Durkheim's idea: Collective representations
    • We see the world through symbols
    • Schneider: A culture's theories of conception are a symbolic representation of kinship
  • Metaphors we live by
    • Lakoff and Johnson's concept of metaphor: The mapping of attributes from a source onto a target.
    • Argument is war
    • Health is up/Sickness is down
    • Love is a journey
    • Huli marriage is bridewealth
    • Family is…?
  • How to do things with words
    • Carsten argues that kinship is created through symbolic action
    • Semantic and pragmatic values
    • J. L. Austin: constative and performative
    • J. L. Austin: locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary
    • Shifters
    • Kinship as performance


Austin, John L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. 1967. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Anchor.

Danesi, Marcel. 2004. Messages, Signs, and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Richter, Duncan J. 2004. “Wittgenstein, Ludwig.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/wittgens/#H6.

Wardlow, Holly. 2006. Wayward Women: Sexuality And Agency in a New Guinea Society. University of California Press.

See also

In Weeks 5 and 6, the lectures introduce basic ideas of semiotics and symbolic anthropology. Here's some articles which sketch some of the ideas in more detail:

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