1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Dravidian Kinship and Small-World Networks

For over 30 years, I have followed the course of socio-economic change in Walangama, a Sinhalese potter community in Sri Lanka's Kurunegala District. It is my view, and the view of Walangama people, that they have prospered,  in part because of strong support from Dravidian practices of family and marriage. But these same years in Sri Lanka have seen economic liberalization, structural adjustments, and civil war, so Walangama's relative prosperity has needed some explaining. I have borrowed widely to do so: the economists’ concept of path dependence; the notion of agency as employed by archaeologists; and recent developments in social network analysis. Now I see indications that the very prosperity the kinship system has supported may be leading to the system's transformation. I borrow yet another theory, the ecologist's concept of critical transition, to explore the implications. I suggest that social change is not a single, ongoing process, but a series of different states linked by major shifts, and perhaps there are ways we can observe this process as it occurs. 

  • Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor
    Sponsored by Department of Anthropology & The Asian Institute


Event Date: 
Friday, 16 March 2012 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Deborah Winslow
Speaker Title: 
Director, Cultural Anthropology, National Science Foundation