Between prescription and proscription: Adoption, kafala, and abandoned children in Morocco
Faubion, James D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Conventional interpretations agree that Islamic jurisprudence officially prohibits adoption. Anthropologists have thus tended to presume that adoption does not exist in the Muslim world. This dissertation explores a conflicted and complex array of practices--extra-legal, illegal, customary, and religiously valorized--that fill the lacuna which official proscription leaves open. It focuses particularly upon two such practices: secret adoptions, which are considered a criminal activity and therefore create a fragile legal fiction of family continuity; and kafala (tutelage-fostering) which is religiously encouraged but creates an equally fragile family unit in which there is no continuity. The dissertation further addresses the failure of the one legal practice (kafala) to absorb the rapidly increasing number of "illegitimate" and unwanted children, and the consequent emergence of what has recently been identified as a national crisis: that of abandoned children. The dissertation explores legal, historic, literary, sociological, and administrative literature, and is based on field research combining interviews and participant volunteering. I examine adoption as a practice and juxtapose legal apparatus, state and bureaucratic edifice, the world of development and philanthropy, individual and family stories, and elements of the cultural repertoire to depict the highly fluid world of secret adoptions and kafala within Moroccan society. Through adoptions, kafala, and abandoned children, this dissertation analyzes core symbols and institutions in Moroccan society--family, state, social politics, affect--and performs a cultural critique of their internal mechanisms.
Cultural anthropology; Middle Eastern history; Social work