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Accepted Paper:

“Don’t you know you are related by milk?”: The undoing of milk kinship under Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.  
Maria Padron Hernandez (Lund University)

Paper Short Abstract:

The Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara has had a profound impact on Sahrawi families. This paper will explore how the division of the Sahrawi population during the 1975-1991 war with Morocco undid milk kinship – a Sahrawi form of kinship founded not in “blood” but in breastfeeding.

Paper Abstract:

Sahrawi families have had to relate various forms of colonialism, domination and national borders throughout modern history. Specific events such as Spanish colonialism, the establishment of independent Algeria and Mauretania, Moroccan invasion and occupation, the division of the country in an occupied zone and a “liberated” zone, and a second war since 2020 as well as new technologies have all, in different ways, affected the ways in which Sahrawi families have been able to do kinship.

For about 15 years, between the Moroccan invasion in 1975 and the ceasefire in 1991, the Sahrawi population was divided between refugee camps in Algeria and the Moroccan-controlled/occupied areas of Western Sahara. During these years, contact with people on the other side of the border was at an absolute minimum, to the point where people did not know if relatives had passed away during the invasion or were still alive. Kinship was, in many ways, ruptured.

This paper will look at one of the ways in which this total division impacted on Sahrawi families’ ability to do kinship. More specifically, it will explore how the division undid milk kinship – a Sahrawi form of kinship founded not in “blood” but in breastfeeding and requiring knowledge of complex kinship structures to be done in the correct way.

Panel P107
Doing and undoing kinship under military occupation
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -