Oddkin: A working letter
September 10, 2021 10:09 AM   Subscribe

But what does it mean to be oddkin? To whom are we actually responsible? The nuclear family restricts the answer to that question to the smallest possible unit: only immediate relatives, not other more distant ones, and certainly not friends or neighbors. This isn’t just a philosophical restriction—it’s built in to our streets and buildings and laws with parking lots and bricks and surveillance cameras. But oddkin rewrites those boundaries, opens them wide up. Oddkin stakes the claim that the shape of kinship isn’t a birthright but a choice, that the people we choose to gather with are connected to us in ways at least equivalent to those we were born alongside. However odd that gathering may be—and Haraway posits that oddkin includes not only people but every living thing around us, the trees and birds and rivers and bugs—it is one in which we are responsible to each other.
posted by ellieBOA (13 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Staying with the Trouble is such a strange and delightful book.

A key part of her call for making oddkin is for us to stop making so many babies. She wrestles with this in the book, including a long commentary in footnotes, but the idea is closely bound up with reducing population.
posted by doctornemo at 10:27 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


This ties into all my thinking about how I always end up being the Mom in whatever work group I'm a part of, and how I don't want to be the Mom, but at the same time, it frustrates me so much to not know what's going on that I end up planning everything and stressing out and making sure everyone's happy.

And no, goddammit, I am not the Mom. You're all grown-ass adults and we're a group of dumbasses together, and found families might be my trope of choice, but by gawd, if you call us a family, I will end you.

I don't quite like the word "oddkin" (I think there's a toy line named that? And it's way too close to "otherkin"), but kin. Hell yeah.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:48 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Odd's bodkins!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:55 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


The word "kith" exists. As in "kith and kin."

Just saying.
posted by explosion at 12:31 PM on September 10 [18 favorites]


From her description of Octavia Butler's Parables: "They begin as strangers, united largely by misfortune, and their gathering isn’t without conflict—kinship does not imply harmony. But they draw lines of connection to each other that weren’t there before, that weren’t merely given to them." There are some very popular movie franchises built on this.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:08 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


A key part of her call for making oddkin is for us to stop making so many babies. She wrestles with this in the book, including a long commentary in footnotes, but the idea is closely bound up with reducing population.

It's depressing how often concern for the environment congeals into this nonsense and ends up linking up with the rightwing Population Bomb ghouls and eugenics enthusiasts.
posted by star gentle uterus at 2:39 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


Brothers of The Badge. Brethren works, too. Gender isn't the point.

No secret handshake. You know who you are.
posted by mule98J at 2:44 PM on September 10


I like this, it sorta describes most of my life. Distant rarely seen uncle by marriage on my fathers side was oddkin. University friends of all sorts were oddkin. Work friends were oddkin. Gay Bar friends were oddkin. Homeless friends were oddkin. Black half-way house friends were oddkin. Maybe I'm a bit weird and asshole-ish about not suffering hanging around with non-oddkin, if it's bad for me, I'll go elsewhere, I don't suffer being stuck in non-kin-like situations for long at all. Sure there are some weird-kin in there, such is kin. I try to keep it down to a simple accounting. On one hand are the people I don't like but have to be around, on the other hand are people I'm around (IRL) that I understand don't like me for reasons, and on the third grasping hand are the people I miss-judged for some reason. Those are literal like five fingered hands (albeit three of them).

I like the 'love' in the workplace, it's the same in life. Choose as reasonably as possible to only mostly be involved with people that you would consider otherkin.

There's probably some sort of Zen thing in there somewhere if you look hard enough.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:56 PM on September 10


def. a case of enjoying the journey a lot more than the destination.. I think I'll read TFA article and get lots from it, but I agree with Katemonkey.. I don't see 'oddkin' entering my lingo anytime soon. Tribes, clans.. this topic puts me in mind of Chaucer's pilgrims, and Blake's observations on archetypes, etc.
posted by elkevelvet at 3:04 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Is this... nakama?
posted by signsofrain at 3:22 PM on September 10 [4 favorites]


It's depressing how often concern for the environment congeals into this nonsense and ends up linking up with the rightwing Population Bomb ghouls and eugenics enthusiasts.

Agreed, star gentle uterus. And Haraway knows it. Like I said, she wrestles with the idea at great length, including the point you make.
posted by doctornemo at 4:43 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


There are some very popular movie franchises built on this.

And cartoon shows! This is basically the idea of Amphibia, dimensionally-displaced human girl gets adopted by a family of frog people.
posted by JHarris at 2:55 AM on September 11


Not sure nakama really has the kinship sort of relation going on:

$ edic | fgrep 仲間 | fgrep なかま | fgrep '(P)'
仲間 [なかま] /(n) (1) company/fellow/colleague/associate/comrade/mate/group/circle of friends/partner/(2) member of the same category/(P)/
仲間入り [なかまいり] /(n,vs) joining a group/(P)/

仲 {go-between} {relationship}
間 {interval} {space}

Missing that loving feeling a bit. Unless you just love everybody like family. But maybe???
I wouldn't have thought nakama was otherkin, not enough kith/kin.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:49 AM on September 11


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