Skip to main content

Substance, Spirit, and Sociality Among Shi‘i Muslims in Iran

Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)

Abstract

This chapter draws from ethnographic research in the Fars Province of Iran to explore the dynamic interplay of kinship and piety for an extended family of Shi‘i Muslims. Wellman examines how kinship is constituted, not only through idioms of blood, milk, and contract as found in Islamic inheritance law, but also through everyday and ritual acts such as prayer, sharing food, and visiting. In focusing on the sacred and strategic aspects of kinship making in Iran, Wellman argues that a full spectrum of material substances, immaterial qualities, acts, and processes can define kin relations within and against outside others.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Bibliography

  • Aghaie, Kamran S. 2005. The Martyrs of Karbala: Shi ‘i Symbols and Rituals in Modern Iran. Seattle/London: University of Washington Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Alfani, Guido, and Vincent Gourdon, ed. 2012. Spiritual Kinship in Europe, 1500–1900. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Altorki, Soraya. 1980. Milk-Kinship in Arab Society: An Unexplored Problem in the Ethnography of Marriage. Ethnology 19(2): 233–244.

    Google Scholar 

  • Asad, Talal. 1993. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bahloul, Joelle. 1996. The Architecture of Memory: A Jewish-Muslim Household in Colonial Algeria 1937–1962. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bateson, Mary Catherine. 1979. This Figure of Tinsel: A Study of Themes of Hypocrisy and Pessimism in Iranian Culture. Daedalus 108: 125–134.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beeman, William O. 2001. Emotion and Sincerity in Persian Discourse: Accomplishing the Representation of Inner States. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 148: 31–57.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bodenhorn, Barbara. 2000. “He Used to Be My Relative”: Exploring the Bases of Relatedness Among Inupiat of Northern Alaska. In Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship, ed. Janet Carsten. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boylston, Tom. 2013. Food, Life, and Material Religion in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. In A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion, ed. Janice Boddy and Michael Lambek. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cannell, Fenella. 2007. “Recognition”: Mormon Adoption, American Kinship, and Religion. In 106th American Anthropological Association Meetings. Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2013. The Re-enchantment of Kinship. In Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship, ed. Susan McKinnon and Fenella Cannell, 217–240. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carsten, Janet. 1995. The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feeding Personhood and Relatedness among Malays of Pulau Langkawi. American Ethnologist 22(2): 223–241.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2004. After Kinship: New Departures in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2013. Introduction: Blood Will Out. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19: 1–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chelkowski, Peter. 1979. Ta‘ziyeh: Ritual and Drama in Iran. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chipumuro, Todne Thomas. 2012. Breaking Bread with the Brethren: Fraternalism and Text in a Black Atlantic Church Community. Journal of African American Studies 16(4): 604–621.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clarke, Morgan. 2007. Closeness in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Debating Kinship and Biomedicine in Lebanon and the Middle East. Anthropological Quarterly 80(2): 379–402.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delaney, Carol. 1986. The Meaning of Paternity and the Virgin Birth Debate. Man 21: 494–513.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1991. The Seed and the Soil: Gender and Cosmology in Turkish Village Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Douglas, Mary. 1972. Deciphering a Meal. Daedalus 101(1): 61–81.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ensel, Remco. 2002. Colactation and Fictive Kinship as Rites of Incorporation and Reversal in Morocco. The Journal of North African Studies 7(4): 83–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Faubion, James D. 2001. The Ethics of Kinship: Ethnographic Inquiries. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fajans, Jane. 1988. The Transformative Value of Food: A Review Essay. Food & Foodways 3(1–2): 143–166.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feeley-Harnik, Gillian. 1995. Religion and Food: An Anthropological Perspective. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 63(3): 565–582.

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault, Michel. 2000. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. In Essential Works of Michel Foucault, ed. Paul Rabinow, Vol. 1. London: Allen Lane.

    Google Scholar 

  • Franklin, Sarah, and Susan McKinnon, ed. 2001. Relative Values: Reconfiguring Kinship Studies. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haeri, Shahla. 1989. Law of Desire: Temporary Marriage in Shi’a Iran. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hegland, Mary Elaine. 2013. Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ho, Engseng. 2006. The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janowski, Monica. 2007. Feeding the Right Food: The Flow of Life and the Construction of Kinship in Southeast Asia. In Kinship and Food in South East Asia, ed. Monica Janowski and F. Kerlogue. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, Christopher, Bernhard Jussen, David Warren Sabean, and Simon Teuscher, ed. 2013. Blood & Kinship: Matter for Metaphor from Ancient Rome to the Present. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaser, Karl. 2008. Patriarchy after Patriarchy: Gender Relations in Turkey and in the Balkans, 1500–2000. Berlin/London: Lit Global Book Marketing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khan, Arsalan, Rose Wellman, and Amina Tawasil. 2013. Rethinking Ethics and Sentiment Among Muslims in Iran and South Asia. In 112th Annual Meeting of the AAA. Chicago, November 20–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khatib-Chahidi, J. 1992. Milk Kinship in Shi’ite Islamic Iran. In The Anthropology of Breast-Feeding: Natural Law or Social Construct, ed. Vanessa Maher, 109–132. Oxford: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khosravi, Shahram. 2008. Young and Defiant in Tehran. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khuri, Fuad I. 2001. The Body in Islamic Culture. London: Saqi Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lambek, Michael, ed. 2010. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2013. Kinship, Modernity, and the Immodern. In Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship, ed. Susan McKinnon and Fenella Cannell, 241–260. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Magnarella, Paul J., and Orhan Türkdoğan. 1973. Descent, Affinity, and Ritual Relations in Eastern Turkey. American Anthropologist 75(5): 1626–1633.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mahmood, Saba. 2003. Ethical Formation and Politics of Individual Autonomy in Contemporary Egypt. Social Research 70(3): 837–866.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKinnon, Susan, and Fenella Cannell. 2013. The Difference Kinship Makes. In Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship, ed. Susan McKinnon and Fenella Cannell, 3–39. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Naef, Shirin Garmaroudi. 2012. Gestational Surrogacy in Iran: Uterine Kinship in Shia Thought and Practice. In Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies Sunni and Shia Perspectives, ed. Marcia C. Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne, 157–192. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parkes, Peter. 2003. Fostering Fealty: A Comparative Analysis of Tributary Allegiances of Adoptive Kinship. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45(4): 741–782.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2005. Milk Kinship in Islam. Substance, Structure, History. Social Anthropology 13(3): 307–329.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sabean, David Warren, and Simon Teuscher. 2013. Introduction. In Blood & Kinship: Matter for Metaphor from Ancient Rome to the Present, ed. Christopher Johnson, Bernhard Jussen, David Warren Sabean, and Simon Teuscher. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, David M. 1969. Kinship, Nationality and Religion in American Culture: Toward a Definition of Kinship. In Forms of Symbolic Action, ed. Robert F. Spencer, 116–125. New Orleans: University of Washington Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1984. A Critique of the Study of Kinship. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schielke, Samuli, and Zentrum Moderner Orient. 2010. Second Thoughts About the Anthropology of Islam, or How to Make Sense of Grand Schemes in Everyday Life. ZMO Working Papers 2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shirazi, Faegheh. 2005. The Sofreh: Comfort and Community among Women in Iran. Iranian Studies 38(2): 293–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Torab, Azam (ed.). 2007. Performing Islam: Gender and Ritual in Iran. Leiden: Brill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Varzi, Roxanne. 2006. Warring Souls: Youth, Media, and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iran. London: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weismantel, M. 1995. Making Kin: Kinship Theory and Sumbagua Adoptions. American Ethnologist 22(4): 685–709.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wellman, Rose. 2014. Feeding Moral Relations: The Making of Kinship and Nation in Iran. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2015. Writing Basiji Lives: Ethics, Happenstance, and the Making of Ethnographic Subjects. In Ethnography of Iran: Past and Present. Princeton: Princeton University, October 2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yanagisako, Sylvia, and Jane Collier, ed. 1987. Toward a Unified Analysis of Gender and Kinship. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zigon, Jarrett. 2008. Morality: An Anthropological Perspective. Oxford: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2011. A Moral and Ethical Assemblage in Russian Orthodox Drug Rehabilitation. Ethos 39: 30–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2014. Attunement and Fidelity: Two Ontological Conditions for Morally Being-in-the-World. Ethos 42: 16–30.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/), which permits any noncommercial use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Wellman, R. (2017). Substance, Spirit, and Sociality Among Shi‘i Muslims in Iran. In: Thomas, T., Malik, A., Wellman, R. (eds) New Directions in Spiritual Kinship. Contemporary Anthropology of Religion. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-48423-5_8

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-48423-5_8

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-48422-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-48423-5

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)