Lauren Ledin

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9760

Approve Date

October 24, 2018

Project Title

Ledin, Lauren M., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Revisiting Lineage: a Life Course Approach to Relatedness at the Late Shang Capital of Yinxu,' supervised by Dr. Alice Yao

LAUREN M. LEDIN, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in October 2018 to aid research on “Revisiting Lineage: A Life Course Approach to Relatedness at the Late Shang Capital of Yinxu,” supervised by Dr. Alice Yao. This project explores how viewing kinship as a process rather than a structure can provide a potent theoretical move capable of changing the narrative of early Chinese society. The Shang period (ca. 1600-1050 BCE) — cited as the wellspring of Chinese civilization — saw rapid material and ideological change, but is portrayed as being completely organized according to an unforgivingly rigid patrilineal lineage kinship structure. Taking a cue from modern ethnographic work in China that finds other important processes of “relatedness” alongside lineage membership, this project reexamines kinship in early China through the lens of post-Schneiderian kinship theory to locate important currents of change within kinship that have evaded identification by previous studies of formalist structures. It uses life course theory to look beyond biological relatedness, connecting extant mortuary data for early China with novel bioarchaeological data collected over ten months in the field. The research for this project took place in Henan Province, China, at the site of the last Late Shang capital of Yinxu (c. 1200-1050 BCE), for which there is the most information on the time period. The broader project is designed to contribute to ongoing anthropological discussions of kinship theory, mortuary theory, and the life course.