Kinship at Work / Working on Kinship: a fresh look at matters of labor and love

Recognizing that family and labor have long been deeply intertwined and politically fraught, this panel explores ongoing and newly emergent forms of work for/with kin: both the labor of building intimate relations, which is increasingly recognized as a domain of effortful activity (and the object of various professionalized careers), and the sites in which making a living and making a family come together, whether in the home or at the office.  We draw on a robust lineage of scholars to emphasize how these connections continue to matter.  Feminist critiques have long explored the important links between work, value, and gendered relations in particular[1].  This work has helped to inspire the considerable attention given more recently to ties between shifting economic conditions, family structure, and forms of intimacy[2].  Uniting this scholarship with that of queer studies, others have focused on new forms of labor involved in crafting kinship[3], and the ways in which the workplace can be a central site for producing family relations as well as livelihoods[4].  Building on early critical scholarship that worked to demonstrate how solid lines drawn between public and domestic spheres are in truth porous and fragile, we join those now considering how these lines have become more obviously blurred, or even erased.  By many estimates, around the world family firms and co-worker marriages are on the rise just as more people are making a living based at home—whether by telecommuting, through gig work, or other online earning (including the growth of blogs that capitalize on domestic and familial expertise).  At the same moment, new livelihoods are being crafted in relationship-building businesses as people set aside time and money to work on finding partners or improve existing relations, whether through therapy or coaches of everything from partnership to parenting.  All of this reminds us how the entanglements of work and family continue to matter while also begging new questions and raising new issues to explore:

What can workplace intimacies alternately teach us about emerging forms of solidarity and exploitation in contemporary economies?  

How can investments made in finding and sustaining relationships inform debates on the commodification of intimacy?  

What forms of kinship are being established among co-workers, and to what effect?  

How are intersectional relations of power challenged or reinforced when people work hard on, with, or in the room down the hall from their intimate relations?

Please email abstracts (up to 250 words) for papers that speak to these or other questions related to ongoing and newly emergent entanglements of kinship and labor to Hilary Chart ( by Wednesday, April 5th.

[1] Rosaldo & Lamphere 1974, Ortner 1974, Rubin 1975, Cox & Federici 1976, Weiner 1976, Abu-Lughod 1986, Mies 1986, Collier & Yanagisako 1987, Strathern 1988, Spivak 1988, Schleuning 1990, Gilliam 2001

[2] Rofel 2007, Cole & Durham 2007, Lane 2011, Stout 2014

[3] Weston 1997, Constable 2003, and Haraway 2016

[4] Freeman 2000, 2014; Yanagisako 2002