Beyond Blood Ties: Detecting Kinship in the Archaeological Record

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dc.contributor.advisor Littleton, Judith Lorimer, Shoni Mhairi 2022-11-23T22:24:12Z 2022-11-23T22:24:12Z 2022 en
dc.description.abstract This thesis explores the conceptual and methodological basis for detecting and interpreting kinship in the archaeological record. It argues that a conceptual shift is needed to produce nuanced and unbiased reconstructions of potential kin relations. This need is supported by the disconnect between sociocultural concepts of kinship and bioarchaeological interpretations of past relationships. Social anthropology recognises kinship as a flexible and socially constructed system for organising familial relationships. Nevertheless, bioarchaeological research often implements a genealogical, procreation-based kinship model, potentially representing a form of cultural colonialism that overlooks the variability of kinship systems within and between cultures. The primary methods used for local-level kinship analysis are based on establishing patterns of genetic similarity between individuals. Developments in ancient DNA sequencing have provided a useful technique increasingly used in bioarchaeology. Underpinning the application of this technique is the prioritisation of genetic data, which implicitly supports the idea that kinship relationships are formed solely through biogenetic links, with little regard for social processes that form familial relationships. The separation of genetic data from other bioarchaeological data impedes reconstructing more complex interpersonal relations in the past. This thesis uses a systematic review to examine the concepts and data previously used as the basis for kinship reconstruction, empirically establishing the disconnect between social anthropology and bioarchaeology while making recommendations for future research. The findings indicate that the variability of kinship systems is frequently unrepresented, and the validity of ancient DNA results can frequently be questioned, highlighting the need to move away from the essentialist argument about the role of DNA and kinship toward a more integrated, biosocial approach. This thesis also provides recommendations for future research to incorporate biological and archaeological data to interpret kinship and demonstrates how an inclusive approach might more effectively use the available bioarchaeological data to hopefully provide more comprehensive, culturally sensitive reconstructions of relationships in past populations via a simple social network analysis.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
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dc.title Beyond Blood Ties: Detecting Kinship in the Archaeological Record
dc.type Thesis en Anthropology The University of Auckland en Masters en 2022-10-27T05:02:19Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: the author en
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