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Spiritual Kinship, Anthropology and Assisted Reproductive Technology for Jews: A Critical Intervention

Mon, December 17, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Backbay 2 Complex

Abstract

From the inception of the discipline, kinship was a central focus of anthropological research. For generations, students were taught that all kinship could be divided into three types, “consanguineal,” or blood kinship, “affinal” or kinship by marriage, and “fictive” kinship that fit neither of the first two models. Yet despite changing paradigms of research, anthropology has not yet, for the most part, acknowledged the strong Christian roots of its originary kinship theory, which has made it difficult to adequately represent Jewish kinship. Recent turns towards the ethics of kinship may help to correct this inbalance. Ethnographic investigation of themes like conversion and assisted reproductive technologies in Jewish contexts help both to demonstrate the inadequacy of the tripartite model of kinship and also point towards a more robust consideration of how Jewish covenantal ethics continues to shape modern reproductive cultures.

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