Milk Kinship in Islam. Substance, Structure, History.

Parkes, Peter S. C. (2005) Milk Kinship in Islam. Substance, Structure, History. Social Anthropology (Journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists), 13 (3). pp. 307-329. ISSN 0964-0282. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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The article critically interrogates an influential theory of Françoise Héritier and her associates that purports to explain Islamic milk kinship as the symbolic product of a peculiar Arab folk-physiology of lactation whereby breastmilk is supposed to be transformed male semen. In Part One, this somatic conjecture is shown to be unsubstantiated by extant ethnographies of milk kinship in the Middle East and North Africa. Reviewing its legal and social histories in Part Two, I indicate that the common deployment of Islamic milk kinship to cement clientage between status unequals, excluding their marital alliance, conditioned its clerical reckoning and symbolic legitimation on analogy with natal kinship. Its similar recognition in eastern Christian canon law, together with its structural parallels in spiritual kinship, suggest broader comparative anthropological prospects for comprehending this culturally distinctive – but by no means unique – Islamic institution of adoptive affiliation and clientage.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: C.G.W.G. van-de-Benderskum
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2008 17:08
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2014 14:27
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