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Family and Kinship in the United States

Cultural Perspectives on Familial Belonging

Edited By Karolina Golimowska, Reinhard Isensee and David Rose

The volume takes a close look at the forms and functions of family and kinship in cultural narratives in the United States. It analyzes social and cultural contexts of kinship and family membership, relations of family and nation on a metaphorical level, and the political discourses that regulate sexuality and reproduction. Representations of family and kinship inform all aspects of American life, which is prominently noticeable in politics, legislation, art, and the media. Family discourses are employed to communicate and negotiate constellations of power and they can serve to investigate differences, struggles, alliances, strategic endeavors, and innovative conceptualizations of kinship. The essays collected in this volume provide readings of texts across various genres that highlight the role of cultural production in reconfiguring paradigms of family and kinship in the US.
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“Congratulations on the Birth of Your Intersex Baby!”: Challenging Normative Ideas of Family in Current Intersex Discourses

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Introduction

In one of her essays, intersex activist and scholar Morgan Holmes poses the question, “Is growing up in silence better than growing up different?“ (“Is Growing Up” 7). Reading the essay, it becomes painfully obvious that the question is a rhetorical one, as it points emphatically to the extensive harm – both physical and emotional – resulting from enforced “normalization” processes intersex children are often subjected to. Yet in contemporary US culture, difference from a gender norm, or norms, is generally perceived as negative, and potentially threatening to the existing cultural order; that is, the heteronormative order that constructs two distinctive genders (male/female), which stand in heterosexual relations to each other.

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