In Transfers of Belonging, Erdmute Alber traces the history of child fostering in northern Benin from the pre-colonial past to the present by pointing out the embeddedness of child foster practices and norms in a wider political process of change. Child fostering was, for a long time, not just one way of raising children, but seen as the appropriate way of doing so. This changed profoundly with the arrival of European ideas about birth parents being the ‘right’ parents, but also with the introduction of schooling and the differentiation of life chances. Besides providing deep historical and ethnographical insights, Transfers of Belonging offers a new theoretical frame for conceptualizing parenting.
New Perspectives on Theory and Practices
Child fostering is an age-old and also modern phenomenon whose importance stretches much further than the boundaries of so-called ‘traditional’ African societies. As a mobile and creative kinship practice, child fostering is of growing importance in the global world as it goes along with other forms of mobility such as migration and transnationalism. The book aims to revitalize the study of fostering by situating the issue in more recent theoretical approaches to kinship. It also examines what functionalist and structuralist theory may still contribute to the understanding of child fostering. Historical and recent child fostering practices in several West African countries are discussed from the angles of Anthropology, History and Law.