making kin: kinship theory and Zumbagua adoptions



The biological definition of family at the root of functionalist kinship theory has been rightly criticized by contemporary feminist and symbolic anthropologists, but in retreating into an antinatural position such critiques simply recapitulate the limitations of an opposition between nature and culture in which the former is prior and essential, the latter secondary and historical. From the perspective of Zumbagua, where people become parents by feeding and caring for children over extended periods of time, both schools of thought are not only inadequate to explain fully the material bases of local practice but are representative of a specific Western-bourgeois ideology that indigenous people actively oppose.