The evolution of Caribbean kinship research is complex and contradictory. Centred almost exclusively on Afro-Caribbean1 families and households in poor, rural communities since anthropology and social work took root in the region, the trajectory takes in matrifocality, male marginality, female-headed households and transnational kinship networks. In this dis - cursive, thematic review, we interrogate these and other conceptualisations of Caribbean families proposed by key researchers across the region. En route, we explore the intersection of ideology, theory and ethnography, as deficit models of family “dysfunction” and “breakdown” were replaced by praise-songs of strength and resilience; as household structure and function gave way to kinship ideology and culture; and as imperialist policies to reconstruct families in line with nuclear normativity were replaced by the idea of family as private space beyond state intervention. Today, kinship has fallen off the radar of Caribbean scholarship. We propose a revitalisation using the interpretive frame of negotiated family processes.