The Family and the State: A Reading Seminar in Anthropology With Dannah Dennis

- Dannah Dennis

Discussion Type: Reading Seminar | Date: 10 Jun 2018 | Time: 11:02 AM


The Family and the State: A Reading Seminar in Anthropology
With Dannah Dennis

Organized by Martin Chautari

In this reading seminar, we will explore the overlapping social and political formations of “family” and “state” in a variety of national and international contexts. While it may seem to be common sense that the state pertains to public life and the family pertains to private life, the state and the family are in fact deeply entangled with each other throughout the contemporary world. For instance, many states model themselves after idealized family forms even as they seek to discipline citizens through a variety of regulatory practices aimed specifically at family practices. Our discussions will be shaped by the following inquiries: how is family membership similar to and distinct from state citizenship? What are the assumptions, motives, and contingencies that shape these forms of belonging? By attending to the intersections of the family and the state, what can we learn about subjectivity, agency, intimacy, gender, and power?

Readings for the seminar are drawn primarily from the field of anthropology, with preference being given to recent ethnographically-grounded works. Each week’s readings are organized around a particular intersection of family and state (marriage, reproduction, citizenship, migration, conversion, and inheritance). Participants will be expected to read all required articles thoroughly and to take turns leading the discussion.

Dannah Dennis completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Virginia in 2017. Her dissertation was titled "Nepali First: Nationalism and Citizenship in a New Secular Republic." She has published articles on citizenship, transnational migration, nationalist discourses in social media, and the politics of urban infrastructure. She currently works as a Teaching Fellow at New York University, Shanghai.

Seminar dates: June 10-July 22, 2018. The seminar will be held every Sunday from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm.

Seminar Hall, Martin Chautari
27, Jeetjung Marg, Thapathali, Kathmandu [Location map]
Course fee: NRs. 4000

Application deadline: 4 June 2018.

Application process: To apply for the seminar, please email a 200-300 word paragraph describing your educational experience, work experience, any prior or current research, future plans for work/education, or any other factors that have influenced your interest in taking this seminar to Additionally, please contact Martin Chautari office for the application form and payment.

Tel: 01 4238050, 01 4102027

Tentative reading list (subject to adjustment):

Week 1: Introductions (June 10)
Alexy, Allison. 2017. “Family.” In The Routledge Handbook of Civil Society, edited by Akihiro Ogawa. Pp. 456-468. London: Routledge.
Chatterjee, Indrani. 2004. “Introduction.” In Unfamiliar Relations: Family and History in South   Asia, edited by Indrani Chatterjee. Pp. 3-45. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Collins, Patricia Hill. 1998. “It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation.”   Hypatia 13(3): 62-82.
McKinnon, Susan and Fenella Cannell. 2013. “The Difference Kinship Makes.” In Vital   Relations, edited by Susan McKinnon and Fenella Cannell. Pp. 3-28. Santa Fe: SAR Press.

Das, Veena and Deborah Poole. 2004. “State and Its Margins: Comparative Ethnographies.” In Anthropology in the Margins of the State, edited by Veena Das and Deborah Poole. Pp. 3- 33. Santa Fe: SAR Press.
Delaney, Carol. 1995. “Father State, Motherland, and the Birth of Modern Turkey.” In Naturalizing Power: Essays in Feminist Cultural Analysis, edited by Sylvia Yanagisako and Carol Delaney. pp. 177-199. London: Routledge.

Week 2: Marriage (June 17)
Ahmad, Attiya. 2017. “Are They Married? Muslim Marriages and the Interrelationship between Transnationalism and Ethnonationalism in the Gulf.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 13(1): 3-24.
Friedman, Sara. 2017. “Stranger Anxiety: Failed Legal Equivalences and the Challenges of Intimate Recognition in Taiwan.” Public Culture 29(3): 433-455.
Höfer, Andras. 2004. “The Caste Hierarchy and the State in Nepal: A Study of the Muluki Ain of 1854.” Kathmandu: Himal Books. Pp. 1-5, 35-59.
Hughes, Geoffrey. 2015. “Infrastructures of Legitimacy: The Political Lives of Marriage Contracts in Jordan.” American Ethnologist 42(2): 279-294.

Cole, Jennifer. “Working Mis/Understandings: The Tangled Relationship between Kinship, Franco-Malagasy Binational Marriages, and the French State.” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 3 (2014): 527–51.
Davis, Coralynn. 2013. “Transnational Marriage: Modern Imaginings, Relational Realignments, and Persistent Inequalities.” Ethnos 79(5): 585-609.
Sherpa, Tashi. 2017. “A Bibliography on Marriage in Nepal.” Published by Martin Chautari.
Shirinian, Tamar. 2017. “The Nation-Family: Intimate Encounters and Genealogical Perversion   in Armenia.” American Ethnologist 45(1): 48-59.

Week 3: Reproduction (June 24)
Bier, Laura. 2010. “The Family is a Factory: Gender, Citizenship, and the Regulation of Reproduction in Postwar Egypt.” Feminist Studies 36(2): 404-432.
Majumdar, Anindita. 2015. “In No-Man’s Land: Citizens and Kin in Transnational Commercial   Surrogacy in India.” Contemporary South Asia 23(4): 442-455.
Nandy, Amrita. 2015. “Natural Mother = Real Mother? Choice and Agency Among Un/Natural ‘Mothers’ in India.” Women’s Studies International Forum 53: 129-139.
Yngvesson, Barbara. 2004. “National Bodies and the Body of the Child: ‘Completing’ Families through International Adoption.” In Cross-Cultural Approaches to Adoption. Fiona Bowie, ed. Pp. 211-226. New York: Routledge.

De Graeve, Katrien. 2010. “The Limits of Intimate Citizenship: Reproduction of Difference in Flemish-Ethiopian ‘Adoption Cultures’.” Bioethics 24(7):365-372.
Gammeltoft, Tine. 2007. “Prenatal Diagnosis in Postwar Vietnam: Power, Subjectivity, and Citizenship.” American Anthropologist 109(1): 153-163.
Leinaweaver, Jessaca, Diana Marre, and Susan Frekko. 2017. “‘Homework’ and Transnational Adoption Screening in Spain: The Co-production of Home and Family.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23: 562-579.

Week 4: Citizenship (July 1)
Fujikura, Yasuko. 2015. “Registering Birth and Marriage: Reconfiguration of the Badi Community in Nepal.” Studies in Nepali History and Society 20(2): 279-302.
Jamal, Amina. 2006. “Gender, Citizenship, and the Nation-State in Pakistan: Willful Daughters or Free Citizens?” Signs 31(2): 283-304.
Pudaisani, Surabhi. 2017. “Writing Citizenship: Gender, Race, and Tactical Alliances in Nepal’s Constitution Drafting.” Studies in Nepali History and Society 22(1): 85-117.
Roy, Anupama. 2008. “Between Encompassment and Closure: The ‘Migrant’ and the Citizen in India.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 42(2): 219-48.

Grossman-Thompson, Barbara, and Dannah Dennis. 2017. Citizenship in the Name of the Mother: Nationalism, Social Exclusion, and Gender in Contemporary Nepal. Positions 25(4): 795–820.

Week 5: Migration (July 8)
Friedman, Sara. 2015. Exceptional States: Chinese Immigrants and Taiwanese Sovereignty. Oakland: University of California Press. Introduction and Chapter 2.
Grossman-Thompson, Barbara. 2016. “Protection and Paternalism: Narratives of Nepali Women Migrants and the Gender Politics of Discriminatory Labour Migration Policy.” Refuge 32(3): 40–48.
Mahdavi, Pardis. 2014. “Love, Motherhood, and Migration: Regulating Migrant Women’s Sexualities in the Persian Gulf.” Anthropology of the Middle East 9(2): 19-37.

Constable, Nicole. Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.
Maharjan, Mahesh Raj. 2015. “Emigrant’s Migrant Wives: Linking International and Internal Migration.” Studies in Nepali History and Society 20(2): 217-247.

Week 6: Conversion (July 15)
Ahmad, Attiya. 2017. Everyday Conversions: Islam, Domestic Work, and South Asian Migrant Women in Kuwait. Durham: Duke University Press. Introduction, pp. 1-35.
Fricke, Tom. 2008. “Tamang Conversions: Culture, Politics, and the Christian Conversion Narrative in Nepal.” Contributions to Nepalese Studies 35 (1): 35–62.
Gupta, Charu. 2016. “Allegories of ‘Love Jihad’ and Ghar Vapasi: Interlocking the Socio-Religious with the Political.” Archiv Orientalni 84(2): 291-316.
Kravel-Tovi, Michal. 2015. “Corrective Conversion: Unsettling Citizens and the Politics of Inclusion in Israel.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21: 127-146.

Gupta, Charu. 2014. “Intimate Desires: Dalit Women and Religious Conversions in Colonial India.” Journal of Asian Studies 73(3): 661-687.
High, Casey. 2016. “‘A Little Bit Christian’: Memories of Conversion and Community in Post-Christian Amazonia.” American Anthropologist 118(2): 270-283.

Week 7: Inheritance (July 22)
Besky, Sarah. 2017. “Fixity: On the Inheritance and Maintenance of Tea Plantation Houses in Darjeeling, India.” American Ethnologist 44(4): 617-631.
Chelcea, Liviu. 2016. “Kinship of Paper: Genealogical Charts as Bureaucratic Documents.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review 39(2): 294-311.
Kunreuther, Laura. 2009. “Between Love and Property: Voice, Sentiment, and Subjectivity in the Reform of Daughter’s Inheritance in Nepal.” American Ethnologist 36(3): 545-562.
Tamang, Seira. 2000. “Legalizing State Patriarchy in Nepal.” Studies in Nepali History and Society 5(1): 127-156.

Gilbert, Kate. 1992. “Women and Family Law in Modern Nepal: Statutory Rights and Social Implications.” Journal of International Law and Politics 24(2): 729-758.

Additional recommended readings
Freeman, Caren. Making and Faking Kinship: Marriage and Labor Migration between China and South Korea. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.
Samin, Nadav. 2016. “Da’wa, Dynasty, and Destiny in the Arab Gulf.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 58(4): 935-954.
Uprety, Sanjeev. 2017. “War of Moustaches: Class, Consumption, and the Crisis of Masculinity in Contemporary Nepal.” Studies in Nepali History and Society 22(1): 1-42.
Wellman, Rose. 2017. “Sacralizing Kinship, Naturalizing the Nation: Blood and Food in Post-revolutionary Iran.” American Ethnologist 44(3): 503-515.

Acknowledgements: In preparing this reading list, I drew on the syllabi of scholars who have taught similar courses in recent years, including Allison Alexy, Susan McKinnon, Geoffrey Hughes, and Tamar Shirinian. This reading list has also been improved with input from Avash Bhandari, Judes Card, Eunsook Jung, Sangita Thebe Limbu, Dat Nguyen, Pratyoush Onta, and Surabhi Pudaisani.

- Dannah Dennis

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