Exploring the Interstices Between Kokajiriri and Adoption: Shifts in Marshallese Practice


Laurence Marshall Carucci




Local adoption practices among Enewetak/Ujelang Marshallese have received some analytic attention but as local people have become cosmopolitan members of Marshallese residential centres scattered from Hawai'i to the mid-west United States mainland they are increasingly embedded in legal systems that define adoption in unique and unfamiliar ways. Consequently, the contours and conditions of adoption have been rethought to allow local ideas about kokajiriri relationships, including coparenting and 'child making', to be brought into accord with an expanding array of relational possibilities. This includes establishing adoptive relationships with outsiders and working to align kokajiriri practices, so-called 'adoption', with the requirements of state laws within the United States. These shifting routines of everyday practice gradually reshape the way Enewetak/Ujelang people conceptualise and discuss kokajiriri relationships. The shifting communal formulations regarding kokajiriri and the correlative changes in daily practice form the central theme of this paper.



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