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Accepted Paper:

Enacting fatherhood: the shaping and silencing of Egyptian and Moroccan fathers' affective claims during transnational child custody disputes with Dutch mothers  
Jessica Carlisle (London)

Paper short abstract:

Transnational child custody and access disputes (between Moroccan or Egyptian men and Dutch women) subject fathers to the scrutiny of various institutions with differing expectations of gendered parental behaviour. I explore the enactment and outcomes of fathers’ affective claims to their children.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores Dutch, Egyptian and Moroccan institutional responses to Egyptian and Moroccan men's 'affective claims' to their children during transnational child custody and access disputes. These transnational disputes span the Dutch/Egyptian and Dutch/Moroccan borders, falling into three legal/bureaucratic categories: cases of alleged international child abduction, of marriage migrant mothers being 'left behind' without their Dutch resident children in Morocco or Egypt, or of undocumented male migrants' deportation from The Netherlands where they have family. In all of these cases one parent becomes transnationally separated from their child.

During the complex, transnational disputes that result, parents submit themselves to multiple evaluations of the legitimacy of their affective claims in two legal systems and have to navigate a complicated web of judgements about their past behaviour and assumed motives, their ethnicity and religion, and their citizenship and residency status. My analysis of fathers' consequent enactment of fatherhood is rooted in the assertion that the expression of emotions is sanctioned or silenced within relations of power that create an affective economy stratified by ethnicity, race, gender, class, sexuality and nation. The result is that fathers exert their agency towards being categorized as having rights to make affective claims to child custody or access.

I concentrate on fathers' accounts in mapping and analysing these disputes based on fieldwork results from 2008-12 in The Netherlands, Morocco and Egypt with parents, government institutions, NGOs and lawyers. I focus on how individual Moroccan and Dutch fathers exploit, or avoid, varying stereotypes about fatherhood and emotion.

Panel P001
Anthropology of the "New Arab Man"
  Session 1