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How do we know that the relations, dynamics, or formations we are talking about are “kinship”? Turning back to the work of Lewis Henry Morgan, we can see how invocations of kinship translate other social formations into the privatizing imaginary of liberalism. Morgan’s texts illustrate how the characterization of varied kinds of sociopolitical relations as kinship depoliticizes them: they appear as expansively extended “personal” relations rather than modes of “political” organization. Queer intellectual and activist citations of kinship, pro- or anti-, tend to repeat this logic. Indigenous intellectuals’ deployments of “kinship,” though, break down the assumptions that characterize liberal notions of politics. They refigure kinship in ways that challenge its depoliticizing, privatizing, and insulating tendencies, opening toward models of radical relational governance and the potential for recognizing other extant political orders.

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