What is a nuclear family? How did this type of family come into being? Whose interests does this invention serve? When did it become prevalent and why? What is ‘nuclear’ about it? Why do some people think it’s the only possible type of family and/or the most advanced one? What are new ways to think about ‘family’ that better serve the future of our species?
All of this stuff came up when Taj and yours truly were reading at Open Secret Bookstore, at the Double Book Launch we held on June 22. We promised more details about it, and here we are!
People often ask me about families, and how they became nuclear. In fact, many even seem to think that families have always been nuclear, that there’s never been another model for what a family is supposed to look like, or even that there is something inherently ‘natural’ to families being of this kind.
But what is ‘nuclear’ about families, really? Are these kinds of families supposed to explode, like atoms? Are they an invention of the nuclear age? Do they look like atoms, and if so, which ones? Carbon? Oxygen? Hydrogen? Uranium? Perhaps they’ve got some nuclear energy inside, in which case they should be handled carefully, right? If they are enriched, they can become even more unstable, and that can start the process of atomic fission, where they splinter into little particles. In this case, they fall under George W’s special category, ‘nukular,’ remember? The famous word that egregious president could not pronounce?
In any event, and jokes aside, the nuclear family, explosive or not, is a very recent invention. If we consider the infinite ways in which life has become organized in order to nurture itself through time on the face of our multifarious hostess Gaia, including all of human cultures and the cultures of other species, we find out that in the history of what we may call ‘family,’ the nuclear family is really a split second. Just a blink of the eye. And not the happiest or most interesting one.
The clip explains when and why the nuclear family became prevalent. What kind of paradigm it is part of, and why this paradigm no longer serves life in general, or human life in particular. Nothing wrong with nuclear families. They serve a purpose. But to move into a Gaian future, the whole idea of what constitutes family must be placed in a much wider horizon.
Check it out!
Yours truly hopes you enjoy the video. Please help us imagine what the video does not say. What families can we invent to met our needs? Suggestions are welcome!
Families are about love, right? So a new politics of love is also a new politics about families, right? If you’re not sure what’s political about families, find out all about it in Gaia and the New Politics of Love.
a.k.a. Serena Anderlini