Lewis Henry Morgan and the Invention of Kinship


Lewis Henry Morgan and the Invention of Kinship

New Edition

Thomas R. Trautmann
With a new introduction and appendices by the author

312 pages
9 illustrations, 5 figures, 2 tables


July 2008


$25.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Lewis Henry Morgan of Rochester, New York, lawyer and pioneering anthropologist, was the leading American contributor of his generation to the social sciences. Among the classic works whose conjunction in the 1860s gave modern anthropology its shape, Morgan’s massive and technical Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family was decisive. Thomas R. Trautmann offers a new interpretation of the genesis of “kinship” and of the role it played in late nineteenth-century intellectual history. This Bison Books edition features a new introduction and appendices by the author.

Author Bio

Thomas R. Trautmann is a professor of history and anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of several books, including Dravidian Kinship, Aryans and British India, The Aryan Debate, and Languages and Nations: The Dravidian Proof in Colonial Madras.


“Trautmann's study is an important contribution to understanding the inception of modern anthropology and, more generally, to understanding the development of contemporary conceptions of human history and culture.”—Martin Ottenheimer, Choice

“Morgan's methods and assumptions—especially his emphases on kin terms and on their genealogical referents—have informed all subsequent anthropology down to the present day. . . . [Trautmann] provides a fascinating insight into one of the founding texts on modern anthropology.”—Anthony Good, Times Literary Supplement

“Trautmann writes elegantly, persuasively, and often wittily, and his book makes fine reading.”—C. J. Fuller, Man

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Kinship and Its Inventors
2. Scale of Mind, Scale of History
3. A Lawyer among the Iroquois
4. Philology in Its Relations to Ethnology
5. Generalizing Iroquois
6. Nature and Art
7. Conjectural History
8. Kinship's Other Inventors
9. Of Time and Ethnology
10. Contributions to Knowledge
Appendix 1: The Revolution in Ethnological Time
Appendix 2: India and the Study of Kinship Terminologies
Appendix 3: The Whole History of Kinship Terminologies in Three Chapters: Before Morgan, Morgan, and After Morgan

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