Mason Experts Offer Tips for the Holiday Season: Reconnecting with Unlikely Family and Friends

Posted: December 14, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

The holiday season has become a time to renew ties and bonds with family and friends, some of them involving people who live in far-flung places.

Roger Lancaster
Roger Lancaster
Creative Services photo

Especially this season, in an era when the meaning of words like “family” and “marriage” are hotly contested, it seems good to mark the diversity of forms of kinship and family in America, according to George Mason’s Roger Lancaster, professor of anthropology and director of the Cultural Studies Program.

“For example, at my own kin gatherings in North Carolina, some of the most feared and loathed forms of family – same-sex couples, unmarried straight couples, interracial pairs, single mothers, divorced men and women, and even those for whom ‘coupledom’ holds no charms – will rub elbows with more conventional heterosexual nuclear families,” he says.

“I don’t think my own extended kin networks are exceptional. Even in rural, fundamentalist settings, people sculpt out zones of tolerance at Christmastime. It doesn’t seem such a far step to spread the good cheer of the season to other times of year – to understand the diversity of living arrangements and kinship in terms of benign variation, not as examples of moral decline.”

Lancaster is the author of “The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture.” He is an expert in gender and sexuality, lesbigay studies and social movements and cultural change.

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