International Review of Social History


Anthropology, Family History, and the Concept of Strategy

Pier Paolo   Viazzo  and Katherine A.  Lynch 


In this essay, we consider family history as a common field of substantive and theoretical interest shaped by contacts among several disciplines. These disciplines obviously include social history and population studies, but also – and rather prominently – social anthropology. One major component of the growth of family history has been the increasing amount of attention that historians pay to topics such as marriage, kinship, and the family, which have long been of central significance in the anthropological investigation of social structure. On the other hand, anthropologists have become aware of the serious limitations of synchronic, present-oriented field research, and most of them now probably agree that historical analysis is essential if they are to understand social and cultural processes. This realization has gradually changed many anthropologists from reluctant consumers of historical work into active and often quite enthusiastic producers.