Kinship. Family. Lineage. Genealogy. These words organize some of our most significant relationships, at times functioning as roadblocks to modes of being that do not sit easily with these concepts. Organizing our affections, loyalties, and allegiances, they help to create boundaries between us and the world. We travel alongside, toward, or away from our kin — whether they be biological, adopted, intellectual, religious, or spiritual kin. Kinship thus describes an emotional as much as, or perhaps even more than, a social community.
At a moment when, in many societies around the world, a more capacious imagining of community is being deliberately erased or forgotten, to be replaced by parochialisms and hatreds, the Wolf Humanities Center topic for 2019–20 calls for a reappraisal of the myriad possibilities for remembering, challenging, and reimagining kinship.