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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