Accepted Paper:

What is a brother? A discussion about the notion of brother in the Tajik context   

Author:

Sophie Roche (University of Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

The terms of brother (aka, dodar, barodar) enclose a large part of the complexity of social interaction in Tajik society. First, I would like to explore the term brother as a kinship term and second, as a social term (used to define members of a group sharing the same set of ideas).

Paper long abstract:

The terms of brother (aka, dodar, barodar) enclose a large part of the complexity of social interaction in Tajik society. The majority of myths teach us that brothers constantly fight each other (Kluckhohn 1969), but in Central Asia this is not the only picture that circulates. In Tajikistan siblings are imagined 'as different as the five fingers of the hand' and at the same time as the most important social unit. Families invest into sons in a way to maximize future security and economic success by placing them into different sectors (state, religion, work migration). The competition for 'niches' (Sulloway 1996) within the family is a strategy, less to gain parental affection, than to oppose social roles that are predefined by birth order.

Sulloway accords the laterborn siblings the potential of revolutionary discovery - if he is right, it means that a population with high fertility in consequence must have a higher risk of (violent or non-violent) conflicts and thus the proportional size of youths within a society would stand in any kind of relation to social change. This leads me to take a look at the social relation standing behind the term brother in its second meaning, namely as an ideological term as it was used within the Islamic opposition group in the Tajik civil war. Within a brotherhood the sibling terms became synonym of equality and unity within the frame of a (revolutionary) agenda.

This paper will investigate on this to seemingly opposing notions of brother and also take a look at cross-references, which means sets of brothers within an Islamic fighting group and siblings' relationship after the civil war.

Panel W067
Brother- and sisterhood in anthropological perspective