PUBLI : Francesco Cerchiaro et Laura Odasso, « « Why do we have to circumcise our son ? » Meanings behind male circumcision in the life stories of mixed couples with a Muslim partner », Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2021, p. 1 – 19.

Circum­ci­sion is an impor­tant symbolic prac­tice that involves parenting and inter­gen­er­a­tional trans­mis­sion. Never­the­less, previous research has not inves­ti­gated what it actu­ally means to the part­ners, its signif­i­cance in coun­tries where Muslims are minori­ties and — above all — if people marry outside their own reli­gious group. Through an analysis of part­ners’ narra­tives, the article explores the meaning attrib­uted to circum­ci­sion by mixed couples (where one partner has a Muslim back­ground and the other a Chris­tian one) living in Belgium, France and Italy. A kalei­do­scope of mean­ings shapes the choice to circum­cise : medical­i­sa­tion, patri­lin­eality, ethnicity and reli­gion. The find­ings demon­strate how : 1) through the medical­i­sa­tion of the prac­tice, part­ners appar­ently ‘de-cultur­alise’ circum­ci­sion, ‘univer­sal­ising’ its benefit for the male body. Thanks to the role of a medical expert they legit­i­mate their choice recalling the ‘authority of science’; 2) when the Muslim partner is the man, circum­ci­sion repre­sents a phys­ical connec­tion that the father wants to main­tain ; 3) circum­ci­sion is a ‘strong’ marker of ethnicity, often disen­tan­gled from reli­gion. It there­fore emerges as a tangible act that connects social rites, the family of origin and cultural belonging. These moti­va­tions offer a new insight into the part­ners’ prac­tices to counter the ‘losing’ of the minority background.

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