SOSANT2270 – Contemporary studies in kinship and gender

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Gender and kinship are key issues in anthropology, although the latter has traditionally carried much more weight than the former. 

Whereas kinship has to a certain extent framed the discipline of anthropology, gender studies first gained momentum in the 1970s, fomenting a critical perspective on the discipline as a whole, including kinship.

As analytical concepts, kinship and gender converge around the debates on natural differences, biological givens, and the ethnocentric bias of the use of these concepts in anthropology: that kinship and gender studies have been based on a western folk model of human reproduction and that the (sexual) difference between men and women have been seen as pre-social. 

Within contemporary anthropology, kinship and gender are viewed as mutually constitutive; one cannot be properly grasped without paying due attention to the other. Both kinship and gender are about relational practices, articulating different forms of relatedness. 

Moreover, there is a general recognition that not only are there cross-cultural variations in the way kinship and gender are perceived and practiced but that also within any one society there may be different elaborations of kinship and gender. This course will focus on the nature of such elaborations, both practices and processes, as these are productive of social inequalities and notions of difference more generally. Thus we will explore how kinship and gender practices inform social relations of:

  • equality
  • hierarchy
  • ambivalence
  • violence

Whereas the study of gender has increased its significance within complex, modern societies, the contrary, it appears, holds true for kinship. 

Among social scientists, there has been a tendency to assume that with modernity, kinship loses its organizing and explanatory force.   However, as this course will demonstrate, both kinship and gender are central to our understandings of contemporary societies.

One domain where kinship and gender intersect is reproduction, amply evident in practices of assisted conception.  Ideas and practices of kinship and gender are also vital to:

  • politics
  • economy
  • religion and Law
  • race
  • personhood
  • bodies

Drawing on a cross-cultural perspective, and with a view to critical reflection, the course aims to explore the kinds of contemporary phenomena that kinship and gender help to elucidate and how these two core modes of relatedness come together.

Learning outcome


  • a general understanding of the relevance of kinship and gender theories
  • analytical perspectives on gender and kinship
  • insight into the mutually constitutive role of kinship and gender
  • significance of kinship/gender for grasping contemporary phenomena and processes
  • appreciate the significance of comparative analysis


  • increased analytical competence and critical reflection
  • ability to read texts with a view to kinship and gender, both empirically and theoretically
  • familiarity with key approaches to gender and kinship studies
  • ability to develop an argument based on academic sources
  • critically examine links between theoretical, analytical and empirical arguments


  • achieve an independent critical mind
  • the ability to express arguments both written and verbally
  • achieve basic knowledge of academic integrity, including the correct use of references/sources


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If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

Basic knowledge of Social Anthropology.


The course consists of 10 two-hour blocks. Each session consists of a mixture of lectures, seminars and interactive exercises.

Students are expected to have read assigned readings before each session and be prepared to participate in discussions.

During the semester, there will be a number of hand-in exercises to support students to work through readings and course concepts, and apply the analytical tools to ethnographic cases.


Take-home exam. The exam paper must be minimum 2 900 words and maximum 4 400 words including cover page and foot- or endnotes.

Previous exams and guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

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