Lecture by Stanford professor on the connections between inheritance, values, and social inequality
Since the 1980s social inequality has increased in industrialized nations as a result of the concentration of wealth in the hands of ever fewer people. In the annual Goody Lecture at the MPI for Social Anthropology, Prof. Sylvia J. Yanagisako of Stanford University will consider how inheritance and kinship relations contribute to this concentration of capital. The lecture will be held in English on Thursday 28 June at 18:00 at the institute, Advokatenweg 36 in Halle. The Goody Lectures are organized by Prof. Chris Hann, Director of the Department ‘Resilience and Transformation’.
The lecture by Prof. Sylvia J. Yanagisako builds on the work of British anthropologist Jack Goody (1919–2015), who studied the importance of kinship and property relations in pre-industrial societies. Yanagisako considers how these factors continue to play a role today in contributing to an unequal distribution of capital in the prosperous nations of the West; her focus is on the legal structures that regulate inheritance in Italy and the United States. The tremendous concentration of wealth that has arisen since the 1980s was also a topic of Thomas Piketty’s influential book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty, however, misses the opportunity to show how kinship, economy, and moral values work in tandem to produce persistent social and economic inequality. Yanagisako will look more closely at this connection through an examination of how inheritance in the United States and Italy is a culturally and legally structured process by which kinship relations reproduce the accumulation of wealth and perpetuate social inequality.
Sylvia J. Yanagisako is Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the cultural processes that have shaped relations between kinship, gender, capitalism, and work in Italy and the United States.
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Contact for this press release
Prof. Dr. Chris Hann