Warren Shapiro: Nuer Sociality and Current Kinship Controversy


In his critique of sociobiology, Marshall Sahlins relies heavily on Evans-Pritchard’s best-known publications on the Nuer. He maintains that Nuer sociality is most accurately analyzed as “culture,” not “biology.” This dichotomy is the basis of his more recent statement on human kinship. By contrast, it is shown here, based on a more comprehensive attention to the pertinent literature, that Nuer sociality is largely consistent with Darwinian and Western folk notions.