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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(G30)

Iranian family, kinship and community evolving and emerging in a changing world (IUAES Commission on Middle East Anthropology)

Location Roscoe 1.001
Date and Start Time 07 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenor

Mary Elaine Hegland (Santa Clara University) email
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Short Abstract

In the last 50 years, Iranians have experienced tremendous political, economic,and cultural change. Family, kinship and community practices have changed,and people have had to build new or transformed organizations. This panel examines Iranian family, kinship and community both abroad and in Iran.

Long Abstract

In the last half century, Iranians have experienced tremendous change and dislocation: modernization under a dictatorial shah, major economic transformation, the Iranian Revoluiton of 1979, the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, a large out-migration of Iranians to western countries, drastic policy changes and social transformation under the Islamic Republic or Iran with even more strict governmental control, and a shift to a more consumer-oriented, individualist, capitalist and global culure and society. Anthropologists have faced severe challenges attempting to conduct fieldwork in Iran. Although the number of anthropologists working in Iran has declined tremendously since the 1970s, several have manuaged to continue ethnographic research through working with Iranians abroad or, a few, even to conduct fieldwork in Iran. Papers in this panel focus on the evolving and emerging family, kinship and community organization of Iranians in diaspora and at home as they adjust to their changing world and as anthropologists aejust to changed working conditions. Authors will present materials on tribal/ethnic groups in Iran, Iranian villagers and urbanites, as well as dislocated Iranians in India and the US and their family, kinship and community practices and resulting organizations as they pursue economic, religious and social lives.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Kinship and Law in a Rural Area of Iran

Author: Soheila Shahshahani (Shahid Beheshti University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper attempts to show what is the role of kinship at the time of voting in a previously pastoral nomadic area of Iran

Long Abstract

Kinship and Law in a Rural Area of Iran

Through this paper on a rural area of Iran, I try to show how blood is thicker than the word of law. When family relations can provide jobs and security, definitely one would participate in voting for a candidate who is the candidate of one's tribe. In this paper I shall follow people throughout a span of 35 years and see how they are intermarrying, and how the structure of a village has changed, and how voting for a candidate who brings jobs is the rational act to perform in a region which was previously pastoral nomadic. Kinship relationship is not just having one relationship to another person, but through inter-marriage, every person has many relationships to any other individual. So the structure remains strong and dependable, and voting becomes reinterpreted to mean participation to claim the importance of one's tribe. Voting booths become locations of conquest for a period of time, and one votes on as many ballots as one can get hold of.

Political and Economic Issues of Matrilineal Relationships in Došmanziyārī Tribal Society in Southwest Iran

Author: Yuko Suzuki (UMR7528 en France (CNRS))  email
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Short Abstract

Based on field work data since 1994, this paper analyzes the political and economic roles of matrilineal relationships among the Došmanziyārī tribal people. These relationships are difficult for researchers to learn about because they operate only on occasion, but they are significant for segmental patrilineal ties and during transhumance and out-migration.

Long Abstract

The operations of matrilineal relationships are difficult to discern from inheritance rights of land in Došmanziyārī society. These relationships work only on occasion, for example, offers of food and clothing by brothers to their sisters' families, use of maternal uncles' land, organizing summer camps and seasonal workers' groups, and forming coalitions during community conflicts based on patrilineal relations. Based on data gathered during fieldwork between 1994 and 2002 and 2012 to 2013, this paper presents several aspects of matrilineal relations among the Došmanziyārī. First, I analyze the affective features of matrilineal relations in contrast to the political and material patrilineal relations which are significant for inheritance rights and defense. Second, I examine matrilineal influence in social formation. Wives' kin intensify the rivalry among brothers and also provide them with more mobility. Men can even live far away from home with help from female kin. To clarify the roles of Došmanzyārīs' matrilineal relationships in politics and economy, we compare them with Qašqāyi ones, which function more as matrimonial ties, and Japanese ones, characterized by strong patrilineal solidarity over several generations with a single heir inheritance system. Finally, I contrast nomadic-rural with urban Došmanziyārī, where a number of female members have become more economically independent from their brothers playing the role of their life-guardians. As they become rivals with their brothers in family decision-making, the affective relations between them, which were the key to matrilineal ties, are declining.

Kinship and religious affiliation in Tâlesh

Author: Christian Bromberger (Aix-Marseille University)  email
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Short Abstract

In Nothwest Iran, among the Tâleshis, marriages between Sunnites ans Shiites are not exceptional. In this case, traditionally the sons receive their religious affiliation from their father, the daughters from their mother.

Long Abstract

Kinship and religious affilation in Tâlesh

In northwest Gilān, among the Tāleshis, there is a significant Sunnite minority ; traditionally, there is, in this region, a mutual acceptance of religious differences between Shiites and Sunnites, even if there is an authoritative shiitization since Islamic revolution. The different religious affiliation does not exclude matrimonial alliances; marriages between Sunnites and Shiites are not exceptional. In this case, traditionally the sons receive their religious affiliation from their father, the daughters from their mother. This will be illustrated by case studies and recent developments will be scrutinized.

Women of an Iranian Husseiniyyeh in Hyderabad, India: A Migrant Community

Author: Mary Elaine Hegland (Santa Clara University)  email
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Short Abstract

Females of the conservative Shia, Iranian-origin population in Hyderabad, India are pleased when the mourning months of Moharram and Safar come and they can go to the Husseiniyyeh to attend women's rituals. Shia, Iranian-origin women visiting from elsewhere apprecaite the ready made community to connect with others. Females appreciate the sense of community with the Holy Ones and other believers.

Long Abstract

Females of the conservative, Shia, Iranian-origin population in Hyderabad, India are pleased when the Shiite mourning months of Moharram and Safar come. They have the good religious excuse to spend time away from the household at the Husseiniyyeh meeting hall to mourn for the Shia martyr Hussein; in fact a poem calls Moharram the "women's holiday" (jashn-e zanan). Based on three months of research during Jan. Nov. and Dec. 2012, this paper investigates the meanings of their Husseiniyyeh attendance for Shia females of Iranian origin. Women visiting from elsewhere, such as Mumbai, Pune, Iran and Gulf Arab countries see old friends, make connections and find a ready made community away from home. Females appreciate the sense of community with the Holy Ones and with other believers. Some of the younger females view the Husseiniyyeh as an arena in which to struggle for change in gender and generational hierarchy. They attempt to initiate their own ritual styles, resist the authority of the older women and gain support from like-minded friends for more independence. Apparently this religious community holds more significance for females than for males: far more women attend their upstairs rituals than do men in their space on the main floor.

Reconstructing Family in a New Setting: Iranians in Northern California

Author: Patricia Higgins (SUNY Plattsburgh)  email
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Short Abstract

Data collected through ethnographic interviews with Iranians in northern California in 1990 are used to examine, in light of recent migration theories and research, the social and cultural reconstruction of family, nuclear and extended, in the new economic, political, and social setting.

Long Abstract

Anthropological studies of migration have increasingly focused on continuities as well as ruptures, on variability in modes of adaptation, and on the agency of migrants in the (re)creation of social organizations and cultural understandings. This paper explores the extent to which data collected through ethnographic interviews with Iranian origin parents and youth in northern California in 1990 can be used to address questions more recently raised by anthropologists concerning the migration process. In particular, the social and cultural reconstruction of family, both nuclear and extended, in the new economic, political, and social setting is examined in light of recent migration research, including studies of transnationalism. The original study focused on the academic performance of 100 Iranian origin youth in the context of their families' migration histories and their return migration prospects, their parents' relative satisfaction with their situation in the U.S., and their families' extent of involvement in an ethnic community. In the process, much information on family organization was also collected, and on parents' and youths' conceptualization of family, often articulated in terms of contrasts—between Iran and the U.S. and between past and present. Analysis of these data provides additional illumination on the situation of these Iranian families and the paths they were pursing in 1990. In addition, this analysis and recent perspectives on migration may suggest useful guidelines for Iranian immigrants in the 21st Century and as well as adding to anthropological understanding of migration processes.

Socio-Cultural Impact of Changes in Kitchen: A Study in Kelardasht Town in Iran.

Authors: Mohammad Hadi Mansour Lakoor (Azad University )  email
John Gaikwad (University of Pune)  email
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Short Abstract

It was common for the women in the neighborhood within Kelardasht town, to come together (while cooking), and freely discuss about several domestic and personal problems as they were very much close and intimate to each other. Exchange of food items between families was a common feature. Moreover the courtyard was considered as a common place where the women moved with comfort and without restrictions. In those days, the mothers taught the process of making ‘noon’ (bread), to their daughters.

Now, the kitchen has shifted inside the modern houses. courtyards are enclosed where outsiders are not allowed. Now the women cook the food items ‘in independent, separate and isolated kitchen’. With this shift, the social gathering of the women in the neighborhood has come to a halt. The close-knit informal group lost the relevance of its structure.

All the associated social interactions have now become a history with the advancement of technological innovations, disappearance of ‘tandir-sar/ ‘tandur’ and shifting of the kitchen in the modern houses. Buying noon from bakeries has become common.

Long Abstract

About 35 to 40 years ago, the traditional houses in Kelardasht town, had earthen 'tandir-sar' (oven), in the corner of the courtyard. Women cooked different food items and baked 'noon' (bread) in the corner of the courtyard. The 'tandir-sar' was used for baking 'noon'. All the women in the neighborhood came together (while cooking), and freely discussed about several domestic and personal problems as they were very much close and intimate to each other. Exchange of food items between families was a common feature. The courtyard was a common place where the women moved with comfort and without restrictions. In those days, the mothers taught the process of making 'noon', to their daughters.

Now, the kitchen has shifted inside the modern houses. Courtyards are enclosed where outsiders are not allowed. Now the women cook the food items 'in independent, separate and isolated kitchens'. With this shift, the social gathering of the women in the neighborhood has come to a halt. The close-knit informal group lost the relevance of its structure. Hence its function - as a conducive forum for addressing domestic and personal problems, lost relevance and existence. The modern kitchens do not have 'tandir-sar'.

All the associated social interactions have now become a history with the advancement of technological innovations, disappearance of 'tandir-sar' and shifting of the kitchen in the modern houses. Daughters do not have any motivation to learn the process of making 'noon' because buying noon from bakeries has become common.

Unconventioal Kinship In Unconventional Situations in Post-Revolutionary Iran

Author: Shahla Talebi (Arizona State University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper is based on an extensive fieldwork in Iran during 2002-2005 augmented updated with more recent research on the creation of unconventional kinship relationships among the families whose loved ones were either imprisoned by the Islamic Republic or taken captive by Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq War, and those who were killed in the massive political suppression of the 1980s or in the Iran-Iraq War. I look at the way the absences or losses of the family members, often the fathers or husbands, led these families to seek out alternative, and sometimes unconventional familial relationships. I look into the ways sustaining familial relationship was even further hindered for the dissidents’ families since so often they had to keep the killing of their loved ones as secret even among their own kin. This paper aims to tackle the unusual and complex realities that result from these violent situations as well as the creative tactics these families undertake in facing these hindrances. I also explore the different modes of kinship and bonds that are formed among the families of those whose death the state claims as its own and officially recognizes as martyrdom. What possible predicaments these families experiences in sustaining, or rebuilding new, kinship if their dead appear to belong more to the state than to their families? What are the points of convergence or divergence between these two different groups concerning their relationships to their dead and their own kinship relationships?

These are questions with which my paper is concerned. Of my concern is also the issue of gender. Since most of the dead are male members of the family I examine the gender dimension of these absences and also their implications for the kinds of kinship bonds that are generated. What possible challenges or potentials these gendered deaths pose for regenerating a community or communities in the aftermath of such disastrous violent events as war or political suppression in the post-revolutionary Iran?

Long Abstract

Based on an extensive fieldwork in Iran, this paper examines the creation of unconventional kinship relationships among the families whose loves ones were either absent or killed in the war or political suppression of the 1980s in Iran. The paper is concerned with the way in which these absences or losses of often the male family members lead to the creation of unconventional kinship relations. It aims to tackle the unusual upshot of these complex situations and the creative ways of facing them by these surviving families. The paper hopes to explore different modes of kinship and bonds that are formed among the families of these dissidents as well as those whose death the state claims as its own and officially recognizes as martyrdom. It seeks to show the possible points of convergences or divergences between these two different groups concerning their relationships to their dead and their own kinship relationships?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Sponsors

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