Conferences and Communications
The search for a more comprehensive theoretical framework was the underlying theme of two conferences on kinship topics held at our institute. In April 2015 Mikołaj Szołtysek and Patrick Heady organised a workshop (hosted jointly with the Department ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’) on the history and prehistory of family systems. The workshop – which was named in honour of Jack Goody and George P. Murdock – brought together demographic historians, archaeologists, evolutionary and social anthropologists to compare theories, methods and empirical findings. The collected papers are being published as a double issue of the journal Cross-Cultural Research (April and July 2017) – which we hope will provide a useful reference point for kinship scholars. The second conference, organised by Patrick Heady and Günther Schlee in September 2016, was entitled ‘Kinship, Cognition and Practice’. It brought together cognitive, linguistic and social anthropologists to consider the current state of the long-term research programme – initiated by Morgan a century and a half ago – on connections between kinship terminology and systems of practical social organisa tion. The papers covered a wide range of themes, and the discussions were lively. In this case too we are hoping to bring out a conference publication. A notable feature of both conferences was the enthusiasm of the participants, and the feeling that, by bringing together representatives of different traditions of kinship research, we were doing something new and valuable. Needless to say, the discussions did not produce consensus; but clarifying differences is as important as establishing common ground. We feel that the ideas that were discussed, and the contacts that have been established, offer a good basis for the development of new, theoretically promising, research plans.