American kinship: a cultural account --2nd ed. by David Murray Schneider

By David Murray Schneider

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Example text

This ritual could be performed only by a parent, not by a child. After this ritual the child was as if dead, and did not exist for the parent. So, these informants said, it was really possible, after all, for there to be an ex-child just as there can be an exspouse. The fact that this ritual is very rarely performed makes no difference. For informants who were not Jewish, the same situation could obtain, but it had neither ritual nor religious setting. A parent might simply terminate his relationship to the child, and act as if the child were dead by never seeing it again, and never speaking of it or with it.

At the top, there is often the Ancestor, sometimes in the form of a couple, like the star on a Christmas tree. As genera- tions get closer to Ego, each sib-set somehow gets larger, so that the whole thing seems to stand on a very firm, broad base. But if one looks closely below the base one can see the trunk of the Christmas tree; Egos line, his children and grandchildren, who continue to move away from Ego generation by generation. The Ancestor may or may not have had siblings, but if he did, they are either not mentioned or they are forgotten.

Trate, , , . , 64 A Relative Is a Person A Relative is a Person (1) I: You want like my son-in-law s parents? No, I never see or hear of them. They re not related to me. ' ' A: Do you have to be close to someone to have them related to you? I: Yes. You use the relationship. When it drifts away you are no more related. You see I went to one of my husband s cousin s bridal showers. ' ' A: Are they your cousins? Is I never see them. 6S A: Are their children related to you? I: No, because I never saw them .

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