There is substantial evidence that the beginning of humankind is accompanied by expanding plasticity of the human mind, thereby enabling the creative generation of systems of language and, along with this form of communication, a way to form a new and unique form of social interaction that we refer to as kinship. No other species is known to have this capacity. This panel will consider how this unique and well-defined way of communicating, classifying and organizing social behavior has been the subject of anthropological research, starting in the 14th century, then, after a hiatus, resuming in the 19th century, and continuing to this very day. Cross-cultural studies on the extensive variation in kinship activity and forms of kinship among human groups, yet still possessing a unique commonality, continue to reveal remarkable contributions to anthropological theory. These studies and their different approaches to research on kinship and kinship systems will be presented by currently active researchers in anthropology who will share their results and insights.