Why do human societies differ in who they class as family? How do children learn about kinship? Why do some societies classify cousins with siblings, and other groups distinguish cousins through your mum or your dad? When and how do people talk about family? Although these questions have intrigued anthropologists for over a century, they remain basically unsolved.
In her upcoming talk in the CRESIDA seminar series on March 22nd, Fiona Jordan, a Professor in Anthropology at the University of Bristol, will describe the VariKin project, a multidisciplinary approach to understand the patterned variation in human kinship terms. The team brings together theory and method across anthropology, linguistics, evolutionary biology, and computational methods. Fiona will present early results from large cross-cultural analyses using comparative phylogenetic methods, studies of the patterns of frequency of use in different language varieties, and insights into child acquisition and use from fieldwork in a Datooga community in Tanzania.