Performing Kinship: Narrative, Gender, and the Intimacies of Power in the Andes

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University of Texas Press, Jan 27, 2009 - Social Science - 288 pages

In the highland region of Sullk'ata, located in the rural Bolivian Andes, habitual activities such as sharing food, work, and stories create a sense of relatedness among people. Through these day-to-day interactions—as well as more unusual events—individuals negotiate the affective bonds and hierarchies of their relationships. In Performing Kinship, Krista E. Van Vleet reveals the ways in which relatedness is evoked, performed, and recast among the women of Sullk'ata.

Portraying relationships of camaraderie and conflict, Van Vleet argues that narrative illuminates power relationships, which structure differences among women as well as between women and men. She also contends that in the Andes gender cannot be understood without attention to kinship.

Stories such as that of the young woman who migrates to the city to do domestic work and later returns to the highlands voicing a deep ambivalence about the traditional authority of her in-laws provide enlightening examples of the ways in which storytelling enables residents of Sullk'ata to make sense of events and link themselves to one another in a variety of relationships. A vibrant ethnography, Performing Kinship offers a rare glimpse into an compelling world.

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Contents

Introduction Relative Intimacies Storied Lives
1
Sullkata Contexts Reflections on Identities and Localities
27
Circulation of Care A Primer on Sullkata Relatedness
55
Narrating Sorrow Performing Relatedness A Story Told in Conversation
79
Storied Silences Adolescent Desires Gendered Agency and the Practice of Stealing Women
99
Reframing the Married Couple Affect and Exchange in Three Parts
129
Now My Daughter Is Alone Violence and the Ambiguities of Affinity
161
Conclusion Reflections on the Dialogical Production of Relatedness
183
Chapter 5 Narrative Transcriptions in Quechua and in English
197
Chapter 6 Interview Transcriptions in Quechua
205
Notes
209
Glossary
225
Bibliography
229
Index
257
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About the author (2009)

KRISTA E. VAN VLEET is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin College. She lives in Bath, Maine.

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