This essay explores kinning, de-kinning and re-kinning – processes through which persons are brought into and removed from significant, kinned relationships, and by which kinship and the state are co-produced in belligerent times.

I would like to contribute by marking some novel questions about relationships between the criminal law apparatus, kinship and the individual.

I will pose questions of de/re/kinning in the European sphere of one national legislative apparatus, that of the Finnish Criminal Law. Does marriage go before blood kinship, and what if anti-queer attitudes of the person’s relatives or in-laws are relevant on the scene where decisions are to be made?

Who has the power to decide about kinship and intimacy arrangements in questions of life and death under a state law that discourages other than heterosexual intimate bonds?

Does the state regulated institution of marriage get privileged in the eyes and practices of the state, and inside families which negotiate with the rules and norms set out in the legislative lexicon?

My discussion relies on a case study on some un/predictable and perhaps negative kinship and family consequences which were encouraged by the Finnish Criminal Law Statue that decreed same-sex sexual acts punishable with imprisonment from 1894 up until 1971. I will shed light on some initial answers by analyzing my research data on two Finnish women teachers, lovers and intimate partners for life. One of them, Nike, died in the 2nd WW bombings in 1940, at the age of 37yo. When the surviving partner Helmi grew older she asked Niker’s family of origin if she could be buried in the same grave than Nike. This was frowned on by Nike’s brother’s wife - who was apparently not very fond of lesbians. The rest of Nike’s childhood family was not against Helmi’s wish, but the anti-lesbian in-law's view ‘won’.

What were the processes of de-kinning and re-kinning on this scene? Does marriage go before blood kinship, and what if anti-queer attitudes of the person’s relatives or in-laws are relevant on such situation where final decisions get to be made?
Original languageEnglish
JournalSQS : Suomen queer-tutkimuksen seuran lehti
Number of pages12
Publication statusIn preparation - 26 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Bibliographical note

Dr. Antu Sorainen, PhD, is Docent in Gender Studies, working at the University of Helsinki. She is the Director of the research team “CoreKin – Contrasting and Re-Imagining Margins of Kinship” (funded by the Academy of Finland, 2016-2020). Her current 3-year research project on Protolesbian Life HIstory and Nationalist Sentiment in 1920-30s Finland is granted by the Cultural Fopundation of Finland (2019-2022). She has conducted empirical studies in the area of queer sexualities in the legal field. She is the co-author of a book on the conceptual history of “Sittlichkeit”, and has published recently on queer inheritance practices. Sorainen was an Academy Fellow at the Academy of Finland and the PI of the research project titled “Wills and Inheritance Practices in Sexually Marginalised Groups” (2014-2019). • Orcid.org/0000-0002-3956-8352

Fields of Science

  • 6160 Other humanities
  • Queer Studies
  • Queer Kinship
  • Queer Law
  • Sexuality and Law
  • Legal Studies
  • 513 Law
  • Queer Law
  • Ctiminal Law
  • Law and Sexuality
  • Legal Studies

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