Replenishing Milk Sons

Changing Kinship Practices among the Sahrāwī, North Africa

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 University of Oxford konstantina.isidoros@anthro.ox.ac.uk
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Abstract

Since the decolonisation period, the Sahrāwī in the western Sahara Desert, North Africa have experienced very specific sociopolitical transformations relating to their millennia-old specialisation in nomadic pastoralism. This article examines the effects of such transformations on particular forms of making kin out of others – milk kinship. Various political circumstances have obliged the Sahrāwī to restructure their customary principles of organisation, possibly diminishing these practices. I question the effects of the loss of milk kin – particularly of milk sons – and the strains on customary matrilocal relations in the survival pressure on kinship relying solely upon ‘blood’ sons to replace these ‘missing men’.

Contributor Notes

Konstantina Isidoros is a social anthropologist specialising in the western Sahara Desert, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and holds an MPhil and DPhil in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. Her research interests are in the specialised human endeavour of occupation, migration, survival and adaptation in arid zones. She is a Lecturer in Anthropology for Human Sciences at Wadham College, Research Associate of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and International Gender Studies Centre, and a Research Fellow of the Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group at the University of Oxford. E-mail: konstantina.isidoros@anthro.ox.ac.uk

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