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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Claudia Merli

Merli, C. (2011). Patrescence in Southern Thailand: Cosmological and social dimensions of fatherhood among the Malay-Muslims. Culture, Health and Sexuality 13(S2): 235-248.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper examines fatherhood among the Malay Muslims of Southern Thailand (representing a minority at the national level, but constituting the majority population in the region). Traditional practices related to birth and the postpartum period are upheld as a marker of ethnic and religious identity by such groups. Building on the concept of patrescence as ‘becoming a father’, proposed by Raphael (1975:70) the data presented show how the process of assuming fatherhood develops during pregnancy and continues after birth through a series of ritual practices in which a man contributes to female postpartum practices. The medicalisation of birth in synergy with recent literalist interpretations of Islam has impacted on these practices, making it difficult to comply with the ritual burial of the afterbirth, which constitutes the cosmological and physical anchoring of individual and ethnic identity to the soil.