15 May 2008 – 17 May 2008 · 2.00 am

Kinship: Historical and contemporary frontiers

Venue: European University Institute Florenz, Cappella, Villa Schifanoia
Organized by Sigrid Weigel, Giulia Calvi, Martin Kohli
Contact: Tobias Retz
Research project(s): Generations and Inheritance


For several decades, kinship was retreating from the attention of students of contemporary societies. This was true for sociology, where the Durkheim-Parsons orthodoxy emphasized the emergence of the nuclear family and the withering away of wider kinship networks. It was even true for anthropology, where the former bread-and-butter topic of kinship lost its attraction and fell out of fashion. Historians also generally assumed a decline of kinship systems in modern Western societies as nuclear-type families tended to prevail.

Today, this neglect has proved to be mistaken. There is a renewed interest in kinship as a grammar of social interaction, as a basis for interpersonal support and exchange, as a pillar of social security and the welfare society, as a link across the discontinuities of migration, and as an embedding structure for economic transactions and organizations. In this situation, a new discussion between historical and contemporary work on kinship is in order. It helps both sides to broaden and at the same time reaffirm their disciplinary perspectives. The workshop will take up some of the issues where this discussion seems especially promising.

EUI researchers who would like to participate can sign up with Liz Webb. If you want to take the workshop for credits, you should contact the EUI organizers early enough.


Thursday, May 15

Contested categories: Genealogies, adoptions and spiritual ties
Chair: Giulia Calvi

Ohad Parnes, Stefan Willer & Ulrike Vedder
Genius, bastard, bachelor: Genealogical failures in 19th century literature and science

Katharina Stornig
Religious female orders in 20th century colonial settings: Competing for kinship

Stefania Bernini
Adoption in 20th century Poland

Discussant: Sigrid Weigel


Keynote address
Christiane Klapisch-Zuber
Kinship symbols and images in Europe

Friday, May 16

Kinship in firms and professions
Chair: Martin Kohli

Harold James
Family firms in the 20th century

Nicole Schmiade & Isabell Stamm
Family enterprises and enterpreneurial families

Barbara Curli
Women entrepreneurs in 20th century Italy: Patterns of generational transmission of business knowledge

Sandra Cavallo
Kinship ties in the early modern medical profession

Discussant: Giulia Calvi


Kinship in welfare and migration
Chair: Sigrid Weigel

Pier Paolo Viazzo
European kinship patterns and the welfare state

Franca van Hooren
Migrant domestic carers in Italy and the Netherlands

Laura Block
Marriage migration

Karin Sundsback
Women migrants from Norway to Amsterdam and New York in the 17th century

Discussant: Martin Kohli

Saturday, May 17

Challenges for contemporary regulation
Chair: Giulia Calvi

Irène Théry
New forms of alliance

Giulia Zanini
New reproductive technologies

Closing discussion

Media Response

09 Jun 2008
Kinship: Historical and contemporary frontiers

Conference report by Joachim Eibach, in: H-Soz-Kult, 9 Jun 2008