Continue ReadingLiving Kinship, Fearing Spirits is an ambitious but sophisticated engagement with some of the fundamentals of anthropology. An investigation of kinship in a contemporary upland community could easily fall into the established channels that have supported the field for generations. Such a study in Laos could also get mired in the local ideological articulations of national community in a development state. This book is instead a deliberate and thoughtful response to the recent tendency toward “taking for granted” (p. 3) the dynamic complexity of kinship. Stolz undertakes to examine the role of agency amongst all the structures of kinship, searching for empirically derived elaborations of how these structures are not just “miraculously” reproduced by themselves (p. 5). To do this, she observes the many meanings and workings of kinship as practiced in the village she calls Pliya. The result is a refreshing, enlightening, and enjoyable story that is told from the inside out and delivered with elegance and honesty.