: [PEN-L:13717] Re: Mark Jones: Theses on the world conjuncture

M A Jones mark at SPAMjones118.freeserve.co.uk
Mon Nov 29 18:33:01 MST 1999

Yoshie wrote:
>The nuclear family was a blip in world history, and it was never even a
>universal phenomenon.

Is this so? Peter Laslett was one of the first to show (in "The world we have
lost") that for example traditional stereotypes of English family life consisting
of large extended families and inter-generational households, was largely a myth,
and apart from the very rich, most people in all social strate tended to live in
nuclear family settings, as far back as evidence from parish records and the like
show, ie, to the time of the Black Death anyway; and if one reads Chaucer for
example, that image of family life is anecdotally confirmed. There is a lot of
evidence that people lived in what we would regard as nuclear families in medieval
China, Persia and elsewhere. It may not have been universal but it was surely more
than a blip and was probably predominant (but I'm not trying to skirt round the
obvious facts that modes of production were organised in ways which required clan,
tribal or extended family/gentile complex systems of interaction,. subordination,
collective work, support etc).

The silk industry in medieval China and Persia was very much dominated, owned and
controlled by women, incidentally, at all stages of production. Emancipation from
gender can be a perversely gender-determinate thing, and perhaps that is
inevitable as long as the crude facts of biology still exist as the inevitable
substrate of all our performativity, ludic or otherwise. This is why I don't
believe in the 'emancipation from gender' as a meaningful goal in some
transcendental sense. Gender is biological.

Mark Jones

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