Cultural Design

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Classical Notions of Kinship and Design

These hand drawn diagrams creat an overview of my blood ties and extended family. My father has 2 sisters and one brother and another sister who passed away in a car accident when she was 6 months old; 2 half brother’s from my paternal grand father’s earlier marriage which ended in divorce.

My paternal grandfather was from a family of 5 children. My paternal grandmother had 4 brothers and is the only girl in the family and also the youngest. My maternal grandfather had 2 sisters. He married my grandmother and they divorced when they were in their 50s. Ten years later he married another woman. My maternal grandmother’s parents are from Baku, and they migrated to Iran during world war I. My mother has brothers and 2 sisters. I have a fairly large extended family by marriage and blood ties, I have tried to include them all, but I think my memory is failing me, as there are a lot of people to count for, whom we keep in touch on a fairly regular basis. I have 13 cousins from my dad’s side and 8 cousins from my mother’s side. Including 2nd cousins I have over 62 first and second cousins. I am married and my husband comes from a family of 4 boys.  I was under the impression that I didn’t know my family very well, but going but this diagram I remember more than I thought! I think the overview shows kinship based on law best. As my extended family is linked together through a series of legal/trusts (guardianship, godparents, wills).

Geographical + Affection ties:
Geography is an important consideration when looking at ties of affection and family. My family is scattered across the globe. All very strong affection ties are indicated by green. An interesting factor is that we had a nanny when growing up as children in Iran, so she was not related and her services were paid for but the ties of affection are pretty strong and both my brother and myself keep in touch with Laleh back in Iran. Travel is a constant factor in our lives. As most children in our extended family have left home and are getting married, there is a lot more contact and affection ties have been strengthened. If I was to draw this diagram a decade ago there wouldn’t be as many affection ties. On my father’s side one of his half brother’s is still in Iran. His other half brother lives in Austria.

The development of technology as a medium for communication across distances has strengthened affection ties between our extended family which are scattered across the world. The passing of time and the tyranny of distance have also curbed some of the internal family politics. The yellow outline shows the strongest affection ties while I was growing up. My brother and I spent most of our time with extended family while growing up in Iran, as both of my parents worked locally and traveled overseas for leisure. I was/am very close to my grandparents, my maternal great uncles, uncles and aunts and paternal great uncles (some of whom are deceased), paternal uncles and aunts. I am also very close to two of my dad’s cousins.

In general, I am pretty close to all my extended family members, some relationships are more affectionate. But we all share the same strong heritage. Everyone in my family, including grandparents were/are at least bilingual. My parents generation and our generation speak at least 3 languages. I though it was interesting that all my cousins overseas are either co-habiting with/married to natives of the country they have migrated to. Doing this diagram has made me miss them all! Looking over family lineage, on my mother’s side our lineage can be traced back to the White Sheep Turcomans. My maternal grandfather’s family can be traced all the way to the family of Ismail on his paternal side and a generation removed from his maternal side, and the geographic location of Ardabil.


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