For some time now, history has been part of the study of kinship in general, and of Chinese kinship in particular. The Chinese idea of civilisation, in which all Chinese people share the characteristics of tracing descent from an ancestor and of reckoning degrees of kinship of the bone,1 has a historical origin. It is tied closely to a ruling ideology forged in the southern Song dynasty (twelfth-thirteenth century), accommodating the impact of Buddhism among common people over the previous centuries (Ebrey 1986), and implemented with great authority after the Great Rituals Controversy in the Ming dynasty under the Jiaqing emperor (Faure 2007: ch. 8). Finer historical detail on more recent centuries, and the more recent medical rationality of the Chinese civilisation of patrilineal descent, are covered by Bray (Chapter 8 in this volume). In the past 20 years, the emphasis of the anthropological study of kinship

has shifted from rules (or norms and structural models) of descent and alliance to the ways in which kin relations are made and maintained among other relations of intimacy and lesser degrees of closeness (Carsten 2000; Stafford 2000). It has returned us to ‘family’, in the flexible Chinese sense of jia, referring to both a domestic unit, and other domestic units linked to it through the male line. Having returned to family, we have also drawn attention to the effects of such crucial social historical changes as urbanisation, migration, changing property relations, the individualisation of income, and so of relations between generations, while retaining a sense of the male line and its continuation.2