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Cousin Marriages: Between Tradition, Genetic Risk and Cultural Change

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Volume 28

Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives

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Cousin Marriages

Between Tradition, Genetic Risk and Cultural Change

Edited by Alison Shaw and Aviad Raz

248 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-492-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78920-800-9 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (January 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78238-493-9 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Besides providing information on the contemporary practice of cousin marriage, considering how spousal choice may change over time and through immigration, and examining how people understand the genetic risks that may be associated with these relationships, this collection also contributes to the understanding of the social construction of genetic risk more broadly.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“The utility of Cousin Marriages does not end, however, with researchers who have a direct stake in the issues. This book addresses an often oversimplified and misunderstood theme in both the science and culture of mating and does so using clear viewpoints with each chapter setting its own tone.” • Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“The editors should be congratulated for expertly steering a course through a highly complex, sensitive, and increasingly politicised area of enquiry. This is a mature volume which navigates a range of often taboo and stigmatised practices and identities with diligence and a sense of ethical responsibility. One major contribution is in detailing just how legislation or debate concerning cousin marriage is frequently less to do with health, and more bound up with anxieties about nationalism and the politics of integration.” • Sociology of Health & Illness

“…an engaging multi-disciplinary reflection on a common theme, namely, cross-cousin marriage. The collection offers perspectives – sociological, anthropological, historical, clinical and political – on the practice of cousin marriage and particularly as this distinctive marital strategy gains visibility.” • Bob Simpson, Durham University

“This book deals with an important, rich and understudied topic: the impact of new genetic understandings of close marriage and its possible health risks on marriage practices and understandings of kinship in cross-cultural perspective. It offers valuable new material, and has [to be considered] a pioneering work.” • Morgan Clarke, Oxford University


Juxtaposing contributions from geneticists and anthropologists, this volume provides a contemporary overview of cousin marriage and what is happening at the interface of public policy, the management of genetic risk and changing cultural practices in the Middle East and in multi-ethnic Europe. It offers a cross-cultural exploration of practices of cousin marriage in the light of new genetic understanding of consanguineous marriage and its possible health risks. Overall, the volume presents a reflective, interdisciplinary analysis of the social and ethical issues raised by both the discourse of risk in cousin marriage, as well as existing and potential interventions to promote “healthy consanguinity” via new genetic technologies.

Alison Shaw is Professor of Social Anthropology in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on ethnicity and health; social aspects of genetics; kinship, gender and transnational marriages. Her publications include Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain (2000) and Negotiating Risk: British Pakistani Experiences of Genetics (2009).

Aviad E. Raz is Professor at the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University. His research focuses on how various ethnic/religious communities confront tradition and modernity, normative life process and medicalization, as well as migration and politics. He has written seven books and more than 45 articles and chapters on topics in organizational and medical sociology, anthropology, culture, and science.

Subject: Medical Anthropology


List of Figures and Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements

Alison Shaw and Aviad Raz

Chapter 1. The Prevalence and Outcomes of Consanguineous Marriage in Contemporary Societies
Alan H. Bittles

Chapter 2. Risk Calculations in Consanguinity
Leo P. ten Kate, Marieke E. Teeuw, Lidewij Henneman and Martina C. Cornel


Chapter 3. Cousin Marriages and Inherited Blood Disorders in the Sultanate of Oman
Claire Beaudevin

Chapter 4. 'Dangerous Liaisons': Modern Bio-medical Discourses and Changing Practices of Cousin Marriage in Southeastern Turkey
Laila Prager


Chapter 5. British Pakistani Cousin Marriages and the Negotiation of Reproductive Risk
Alison Shaw

Chapter 6. A Cousin Marriage Equals a Forced Marriage: Transnational Marriages between Closely Related Spouses in Denmark
Anika Liversage and Mikkel Rytter

Chapter 7. Changing Patterns Of Partner Choice? Cousin Marriages Among Migrant Groups In The Netherlands
Oka Storms and Edien Bartels


Chapter 8. Using Community Genetics for Healthy Consanguinity
Joël Zlotogora

Chapter 9. Premarital Carrier Testing and Matching in Jewish Communities
Aviad Raz

Chapter 10. Preconception Care For Consanguineous Couples in the Netherlands
Marieke E. Teeuw, Pascal Borry and Leo P. ten Kate

Afterword: The Marriages of Cousins in Victorian England
Adam Kuper


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