Friendship and Kinship: Comparatism and Its Theoretical Possibilities in Anthropology

In: Regimes of Comparatism

Abstract: This chapter investigates a fundamental question for any anthropological work, namely comparatism, with specific reference to the problem of the vernacular language of the anthropologist in interaction with the object of study. To explore this the chapter focuses on the interrelated languages of kin and friend (with which so much anthropology has been fixated). When kin and friends are compared within a society is this comparatism? How do such internal comparatisms inform comparatisms between different societies? Looking at the division between the object and method of analysis, to see how such a division is also a form of connection by keeping things in relation, the too easy assumption of a pattern of similarity and difference is questioned, in favour of a more complex dialectic where both dissimilarity and convergence can be negated in the enacted differentiations of social narratives.