(Friday, July 7, 9.15 – 10.10)
Chair: Mihaela Hărăguș
Transnational families in polymedia
The way in which transnational family members maintain relationships at a distance has been transformed by the increasingly ubiquitous presence of social and mobile media. In my talk I will address the consequences of this ‘always on’ culture of connectivity for care and intimate relationships as well as the process of migration as a whole. Drawing on long-term ethnographic work with transnational families, I will argue that new communication technologies – understood as environments of polymedia – become integral to the way family relationships are enacted and experienced. Although polymedia do not solve the problems associated with long-term separation they do engender new forms of co-presence and intimacy which have powerful emotional consequences – both positive and negative – for relationships at a distance. Given the conditions of prolonged separation, many transnational families come into being in (rather than with) polymedia, revealing aspects of mediation that are relevant for personal relationships more broadly. In the second part of my talk I will address the consequences of polymedia communication for the phenomenon of migration as a whole.
Section 1: The virtual and the imaginary in transnational families
(Friday, July 7, 10.20 – 11.10)
Chair: Veronica Savu
The shifting topology of care in the net era: beyond domestic seclusion, the new virtual presences of live-in domestic workers within their families
The massive demand for private domestic services (Sarti) in the countries of Southern Europe testifies a process of reorganization in the care and kinship economy (Yeats) involving both the sending and receiving countries of feminine migrations. In the large debate on global care chains, this communication will focus on domestic workers’ family experiences which are scattered in a transnational landscape. More specifically, I will try to clarify the multiple forms of participation (virtual, material, social) of migrant servants in distant social contexts as well as the overall reorganization of care arrangements for their families across multiple locations. I will also explore the virtual space where migrants and their families establish different forms of connected presences (Licoppe), and daily routines at distance. Through these lenses, I will show how these live-in domestic servants are entangled in a complex process of household transactions and solidarities. The mobilization of the transnational paradigm will help us to examine other important insights regarding the emergent figure of the connected migrant (Dominescu) and their daily practices to stay in touch with relatives. I will point out that these practices contribute to inscribe migrants and their relatives in a territory that is primarily cognitive and affective based on the persistence of common logics of action among family members at distance.
Older People, Transnational Families and Online Communication
Growing old is often accompanied by a decrease in social interactions. In the context of the current intensive global migration for work and study, older people are often left behind (Lunt, 2009). Older adults value the activities that help them keep in touch with family members and Internet-mediated communication technologies can offer suitable mechanisms for family members to share daily experiences whenever they get separated (Ivan & Fernández-Ardèvol, 2017). These technologies enable family members to be co-present and to support each other emotionally across distance (Baldassar, 2016). In the current work we explore the way older people use different online applications to communicate with family members. By the use of semi-structured interviews (individual and focus groups) we target transnational families, by approaching older people with Internet access. Our analysis is based on empirical evidence gather from two previous studies: one in which we explore the way grandparents are communicating with their children and grandchildren using different ICTs and a series of focus groups conducted with grandmothers in Bucharest to assess the type of technologies they use in everyday life. In both studies we noticed the fact that grandparents from transnational families were more digital skilled compare to the other participants and we analyze these findings in the line with the uses and gratifications theory.
Section 2: Transnational parenting and resources’ circulation within transnational families
(Friday, July 7, 11.30 – 13.20)
Chair: Neda Deneva-Faje
A life course perspective on parenting within transnational families of labor migrants from Poland and Romania in Sweden: the interplay between the institutional contexts and migrant parents’ strategies
Charlotte Melander, Oksana Shmulyar Gréen
This paper explores parental strategies and care arrangements within transnational families during the process of intra-EU labor migration. We focus on migrant families from Eastern Europe (Poland and Romania) where one or both parents migrated to Sweden for work and children were left in their home country and in most cases joined their parents in Sweden at a later date.The empirical findings we draw upon in this paper are qualitative interviews with migrant parents, both mothers and fathers, in the ongoing project Care-giving arrangements in the enlarged Europe: migrants’ parental strategies and the role of institutional context in Sweden. Using a life course approach, the paper analyses how the capacity within the institutional context and kinship networks in both sending and receiving societies interacts with parental strategies during different phases of the migration process. Using the life-course approach, we have identified specific events and turning points that have formative influences on parental strategies. Policy-wise, EU labor migrants undergo three formal phases in the course of migration: from ‘tourists’, to registered EU citizens, and finally to permanent residents in Sweden. In their real lives, as our results show however, migrant parents go through several particular phases and sequences of events, which condition transnational families’ opportunity structures across both time and space. These include decisions to migrate, family separations and care arrangements overcoming distance, uncertainty and semi-legality within the labor market and return, or eventually getting a proper job and residence right, which may lead to family reunification and settlement in Sweden.
“Our Westerner”: The Role of Youth in Reconfiguring Transnational Families
After the fall of Communism, many Eastern-European youth have chosen to study, at the higher education, but sometimes also the highschool level, in the West. After completing their studies, many have stayed in the West in order to go on with their lives, even receiving a Western citizenship. Hence we can meet “Western” youth in Eastern transnational families. In the Romanian context, this phenomenon has a double aspect: many Romanian youth study in the West as described above, but also many from the Republic of Moldova choose Romania as a country of study and self-affirmation. In this paper, we shall present the itinerary of these young people in the process of becoming “Romanian” and the role these “Westerners” play in the lives of Moldavian transnational families. The paper will present the voice of the members from these families living in Romania, but also those in Moldova.
Women family related migration challenges
Ana Maria Preoteasa
The aim of the presentation is to explore the interdependence between time, place and family in women’s migration decision and on their life path. In the last 25 years Romanians have experienced different migration paths, especially in accordance with destination countries opportunities and visas policies. The paper seeks to document women’s migration trajectories considering migration time, professional career at origin and destination, life stage and family connections (if they migrated together with family or not, if there are children remained at origin). The linked lives’ role in migration paths or return decision will be studied considering the family (nuclear and extended) as well as other social networks. 25 life story interviews with women with diverse socio-economic background, having a considerable migration experience in European countries are analyzed. Our analysis takes into consideration both the biographical facts and the narrated life events as well as the feelings and attitudes migrant women express within their narratives. The data were collected using the life history interview. The data analysis followed a deductive and inductive approach in order to identify the main challenges and adaption strategies as well as the role of linked lives in explaining their decisions.
A Migration Project for All? Dynamics and Decision‐Making Processes in Transnational Families
Women migrants have historically have been associated with immobility and passivity regarding the family ”migration project”. As they became more visible on the transnational labor market they also they also gained more power in making plans and decisions, oftentimes preferring to take root at destination. Frequently, as pointed in some of the presented case studies, their quasi-empowering migration experiences changed the dynamics within their families, sometimes as much as structural factors. Their decisions oftentimes contested and challenged some of the existing norms on home-making through specific gender(ed) activities. Using a transnational perspective on migration, I investigate the gendered and aged dynamics between members of transnational families to show that besides women, children and other rooted family members get involved in decisions that represent more than just fulfilling household chores. In order to bring out the dynamics of family life, I use home-making and return as analytical tools to highlight migrants’ struggles to maintain a coherent and convenient migration project for all family members. Drawing on a longitudinal multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork conducted among Romanian labor migrants in Romania and Spain my research explores the decision-making processes in familial migration projects in which members are multifariously involved. To evince the flexibility and inconsistency of transnational family life I conclude with a discussion on the coherence of the migration project as a non-teleological experience that uncover the resilient mechanisms members employ to face challenges.
(Friday, July 7, 16.00 – 16.45)
Chair: Viorela Ducu
Mobile childhoods: rethinking children’s place in transnational families
Section 3: Children in Transnational Families
(Friday, July 7, 17.00 – 19.00)
Chair: Ionuț Földes
A longitudinal analysis of well-being of Ghanaian children in transnational families
Victor Cebotari, Valentina Mazzucato, Ernest Appiah
This study is the first to employ panel data to look at well-being outcomes – self-rated health, happiness, life satisfaction, and school enjoyment – of children and youths in transnational families in an African context. It analyzes data collected in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from secondary school children and youths aged from 12 to 21 in Kumasi and Sunyani, two urban areas with high out migration rates in Ghana (N = 755). The analysis investigates the well-being of children who experience different transnational care arrangements, such as the migration status of parents, internal and international parental migration, who the caregiver of the child is and the stability of the care arrangement. We distinguish between different transnational family characteristics also in relation with other conditions that may be affecting child well-being, such as marital status of migrant parents and the gender of the child. Results indicate that children with fathers, mothers or both parents away internally or internationally, those cared for by family members, and those in stable care arrangements are equally or more likely to have higher levels of well-being as children in non-migrant families. Yet there are certain risk factors – being a female or living in a family affected by divorce – that may decrease child well-being. This study concludes by arguing for a more contextualized understanding of how different transnational forms of living affect child well-being in an African migrant sending context.
Are Romanian Children left behind a vulnerable group to human trafficking?
Rafaela Hilario Pascoal, Adina Nicoleta Erica Schwartz
The massive migration flow that has followed the economic crisis at the end of Ceausescu’s dictatorship in Romania has led to a decrease of 10 to 15% of the Romanian population (IOM, 2008). The demand for a feminine segmented work on the destination countries, such as caregivers and cleaning ladies has led to many parents leaving their children with their relatives or in governmental institutions. In 2007, a minimum of 82,464 children were left behind in the care of one parent (47,154) or relatives (35,310), while 2500 entered into the social protection system (Save the Children). In 2008 with the intensification of the phenomenon, several organizations lobbied for the modification of the Articles 104-108 of Law 272/2004. In the Greta’s report (2012) children left behind have been considered a potential vulnerable group to traffickers and recent data from the Romanian National Agency Against Human Trafficking has identified victims who are children left behind. The present article aims to analyze 1) The vulnerability of children left behind to human trafficking; 2) the applied measures by the governmental institutions to reduce their vulnerability; 3) the current tendencies of the phenomenon.
Romanian Children in Multiple Worlds
The departure of the parents is often followed by the departure of the children. Often the relocation of the child is well received by the family, since by migrating Westward, the children have access to a more modern education system compared to the Romanian one. However, there are situations in which only the children migrate in order to go to school abroad. Situations are frequent where parents who have migrated together with their children decide to return home, but the parents’ decision is not 100% shared by the children, especially since they have difficulties in using the Romanian language. Children with migrant parents or from bi-national marriages often have access to double citizenship, but we also encounter more interesting situations when these children are born in a third country, hence they will be able to access multiple citizenships. These children, having access to multiple worlds, become actors of a cosmopolitan world with a vision different from that of the nation-state in which Romanians used to be educated
Impacts of intra-EU mobility on sending communities: health care and education systems in Romania and Slovakia in comparative approach
The paper we propose is an initial step into a larger research undertaken in the framework of the REMINDER Project which explores the factors that have been shaping the impacts of free movement in the EU. We therefore propose a literature review of two specific areas. First, we look at the literature on the impacts of intra-EU mobility on sending communities from the perspective of health care. How is health care organized in communities where a large share of health care professionals is working on a short- or long-term abroad? How is health care of the elderly organized in sending communities where migrants are engaged in care work abroad? Secondly, we look at impacts of intra-EU mobility on the education system, particularly on elementary school. What measures are communities undertaking to support children whose families are working abroad and to support children returning to their home countries after a prolonged period in schooling systems in another EU Member State? The paper aims at identifying existing gaps in understanding the effects of intra-EU mobility on communities in Slovakia and Romania, particularly on family strategies complementing state policies with regard to health care and education. The conference offers a great opportunity to exchange on several related topics, particularly on the subject of transnational family caregivers arrangements.
Caring from Afar: Transnational Motherhood among Filipina Domestic Workers in Canada
Transnational motherhood is a result of social, racial, gender, and national inequality. Utilizing literature on globalization, transnationalism, motherhood, domestic workers and immigration policies in Canada, this study examines the experiences of mothers who are employed as live-in caregivers in Toronto while caring for their overseas children. Drawing on survey and in-depth interview data, this study documents the strategies employed by live-in domestic workers in constructing transnational motherhood. In order to endure long temporal and geographical separation from their children, transnational mothers enhance their role as breadwinners and condense their role as face-to-face nurturers, complimenting it with e-mothering and surrogates. They redefine motherhood to withstand the coerced necessity to mother from afar. The study concludes by presenting policy changes to enable live-in domestic workers to choose the kind of motherhood they would like to practice.
(Saturday, July 8, 9.00 – 9.45)
Chair: Mihaela Nedelcu
Practices of intimacy in transnational families: Care circulation and the re-appropriation of the tension between geographical distance and emotional proximity?
In this paper I consider practices of care circulation (Baldassar & Merla, 2014) as “practices of intimacy” (Jamieson 2011) that can be understood, in a transnational context, as mediums for the (re)appropriation of the tension between geographical distance and emotional closeness. This hypothesis is further explored through the mobilisation of a conceptual framework located at the intersection between social sciences and psychology, developed in collaboration with François & Janssen (Merla et al. 2014), which interrogates the dialectical relations between geographical distance and social ties. I will discuss in particular how technological, cultural-normative, institutional and relational contexts contribute to influence people’s perception of geographical distance as an obstacle – or as a facilitator – for the maintenance of intimate relations.
Section 4 (I): Intergenerational networks of solidarity and the role of the elderly
(Saturday, July 8, 10.00 – 10.50
Chair: Paul-Teodor Hărăguș
Transnational Grandchildhood: Negotiating Intergenerational Grandchild – Grandparent Ties across Borders
Recent research on migration pays particular attention to transnational family relations. Number of texts has been dealing with transnational organization of care-giving, transnational motherhood or transnational fatherhood etc. In these studies, the children are presented typically as those left-behind by their migrant parents. When it comes to the research on the second generation transnational childhood, we observe a little attention paid to how the transnational family relations are perceived by children themselves. The aim of this paper is to introduce the notion of transnational grandchildhood which captures the meanings and practices of intergenerational family ties that children maintain with their grandparents in country of their origin. The paper draws upon the interviews with second generation Vietnamese children living in the Czech Republic. The paper should initiate a scholarly discussion about transnational intergenerational relationships between generations. This paper contributes to the research on children’s understanding of transnational kinship ties and transnational intergenerational relations with their grandparents.
Transnational grandparenting and the role of the Zero generation within the transnational family configurations
Mihaela Nedelcu, Malika Wyss
The Zero generation (G0) – i.e. the mobile parents of adult migrants – represents a new significant actor in the context of transnational migrations and family solidarities. Often perceived as ‘orphan pensioners’ left behind, migrants’ parents are nevertheless actively contributing to the transnational circulation of care, providing valuable support to their children and grandchildren in host countries. Based on an ongoing qualitative research conducted with migrant families of several origins in Switzerland, this paper questions the role of the G0 as transnational grandparents. First, a comparative analysis of the interviews with both migrants from EU and non-EU countries as well as their G0-parents will highlight the various types of existing G0 care arrangements (according to the frequency and the length of the stays, as well as the content of solidarity and support that migrants’ parents offer during these situations of copresence). Second, we present an analytical framework of the multiple drivers of this diversity, along with structural, relational and individual levels. Then, we argue that there are several factors favouring or limiting this particular form of transnational care-giving in situations of face-to-face copresence. They are, in particular: the migration, care and gender regimes in Switzerland; the existence of other informal care-givers within the larger network of the transnational family configuration; and the life-course events of transnational families’ members
Section 4 (II): Intergenerational networks of solidarity and the role of the elderly
(Saturday, July 8, 11.20 – 12.10)
Chair: Paul-Teodor Hărăguș
To Care or to Work: Intergenerational Kin Solidarities Split between Productive and Reproductive Labour in the Framework of EU Freedom of Movement
Intergenerational kin solidarities are established through a complex process of kin work which involves both care obligations and financial support. Focusing on the generation of the young-old who are still in active labour age, while already having grandchildren to take care of, I explore the tensions, ruptures, and reconfigurations that migration brings in between generations. I use the case of Bulgarian Roma migrants to several EU countries to highlight the patterns that are created between the productive and reproductive labour of the ageing carers. Building on ethnographic material from two Bulgarian Roma communities whose members are transnationally spread between Bulgaria, Germany and the Netherlands, I trace the different logics of defining what it means to be a ‘good grandparent’. At the core of the analysis lies an exploration of intergenerational moral codes that frame the life choices of the ageing migrants and the positions that they adopt as economic and care agents in the complex kin relations. I argue that the EU freedom of movement, and the more relaxed access to EU labour markets (formally and informally) transform kin relations by stretching them territorially and simultaneously providing the opportunity for an intensified mobility and flexibility, which results in new patterns of care- and kin- relations. Thus the enabling context of open borders and labour markets conditions contradictory pressures on ageing migrants to be simultaneously present as carers at home and absent as financial providers in migration.
Elderly parents as a resource for their adult migrant children
Mihaela Hărăguș, Ionuț Földes, Veronica Someșan
Section 5: Binational families: the challenges of researching multicultural families
(Saturday, July 8, 14.30 – 15.45)
Chair: Cristine Palaga
Transnational migrants’ childcare strategies in Hungary: Chinese children in Hungarian homes
This paper discusses a practice related to the everyday transnationalism of Chinese migrant families in Hungary. It focuses on children caught at a certain stage in the process of transnational family mobility. There are Chinese migrant children in Hungary who are looked after, cared for and temporarily raised by adult members of the Hungarian host society in the carers’ homes, while their parents also live in Hungary, sometimes in the close vicinity. What exactly this care-arrangement comprises may vary to a great degree from case to case in terms of time spent with Hungarian carers and in terms of where and how this activity actually takes place.
Transnational visits – having guests from Poland, hospitality challenges for Polish migrants in Norway
Magdalena Żadkowska, Dorota Rancew-Sikora
During longitudinal psycho-sociological project Par Migration Navigator (Socio-cultural and Psychological Predictors of Work-Life Balance and Gender Equality- Cross-Cultural Comparison of Polish and Norwegian Families) we conducted in 2014–2016 in Poland and Norway we came across the theme of hospitality. Considering that being hospitable is widely recognized as an important part of Polish national identity, the theme of hospitality brings together many important identity issues in this cultural context (Pisarek 2016). Since the whole project was focused on the trajectory of relationship and migration, the informants were asked about their perception of possible differences between Polish and Norwegian national culture in everyday life. For hospitality studies it is important that cross-national families consist not only of people living in a shared household, but also of some distant others who are present in their communication and sometimes visit them in person (Beck, Beck-Gernsheim 2014, Wojtyńska 2016). Although living abroad provides a good opportunity for visits from close family and friends, the presence of these ‘distant others’ possibly makes everyday life of the mixed couple even more difficult than usual. This turns relatively usual situations into events, which are important for their cultural and social identities. When the guests come from the home country of one of the hosts, couples are likely to engage in the process of reflective negotiations together with them. It makes a whole family act on transnational level.
On interviewing partners of mixed couples together: performance, meta-communication, and positionality
This paper is based on a qualitative study about the processes of boundary-making among 61 Albanian-Italian and Albanian-Romanian couples in Italy. In particular, it focuses on the methodological challenges of interviewing mixed couples arisen during my fieldwork. Although joint couple interviews have rarely been considered as a technique per se, the paper shows how they actually represent something more than an interview format in between individual interviews and focus groups, precisely by virtue of the relationship between the two interviewees. In fact, joint couple interviews are characterised by three main dimensions: perfomance, meta-communication, and positionality – which add further meanings to the narratives themselves. Firstly, joint couple interviews provide observational data through couples’ interactions; secondly, they constitute an opportunity to display the couple/family history to a multiple audience (the researcher, the partner, the ‘witness’); thirdly, they need to be carefully considered at the intersection between participants’ and researcher’s positionalities. It follows that joint couple interviews are particularly suitable to be analysed through a dramaturgical approach characterised by team-work, loyalty, destructive information, discrepant roles, irony, postponements, re-alignments, collusions. Moreover, joint couple interviews are not only ways in which data are elicited within the frame of a research project, but also ways in which meanings are transmitted within participants’ partnering/parenting practices – therefore, they fulfil a double function. Lastly, joint couple interviews offer the chance to reflect on self/other identificational categories, through a ‘three-player game’ in which similarities and differences are defined in relation to a third pole – the researcher, walking a fine line between proximity and distance to each participant.
Section 6: PhD students’ workshop
(Saturday, July 8, 16.00 – 17.40)
Chair: Anca Aștilean
Exploring Transnational Entrepreneurship Among Transnational Albanian Migrant Families
The article gives an overview of the scholarly debate on transnational families and the transnational entrepreneurship phenomenon. It examines the dynamics and features of transnational Albanian migrant families and their transnational entrepreneurial activities. Furthermore, it investigates the potential impact of their entrepreneurial activities on Albania’s development. Because of the absence of entrepreneurship experience in their homeland during the communist regime, Albanians would seem to be in a weak position to generate entrepreneurship. But, paradoxically, these people have succeeded in identifying and exploiting various entrepreneurial opportunities, and are increasingly engaging in entrepreneurial activities. Thus, studying Albanian transnational migrant families doing entrepreneurship is important because they are perceived as potential development actors. I conclude that transnational entrepreneurship among transnational families has the potential to contribute to development, but not all entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activities contribute equally.
Decolonizing transnational chains – Changing labor, care and family structures in current European agriculture
Rethinking loneliness. A quantitative study about determinants of loneliness among older adults with at least one child working abroad
Studies have shown repeatedly that older adults who are in poor health and who live alone are subject to high levels of loneliness. Moreover, the size of the social network and the support exchanges within it are strongly associated with levels of loneliness among older adults. Therefore, I intend to highlight the determinants of loneliness which are experienced by Romanian elderly with at least one child who is currently working abroad. It is expected to find differences between social and emotional loneliness. Data was used from the ongoing research Intergenerational Solidarity in the Context of Work Migration Abroad. The Situation of Elderly Left at Home. The major component of the project is a national survey which was carried out among elderly parents aged 60 and above with at least one adult child who is currently working abroad. The sample size reached 1500 respondents.
The results of logistic regression show that, comparing to the young old, being oldest old, is more likely to experience emotional loneliness. Responds with poor health are five times more likely to experience emotional and social loneliness, as opposed to those with no health problems. With regards to respondents who have all their children living abroad, they express more social loneliness than parents who have other children living in the country. Those who are visited frequently are less likely to experience social loneliness. No significant differences were found when testing for emotional loneliness.
Intergenerational solidarity across borders: elderly parents left behind and children living abroad
Opening the national borders across Europe along with facilitating work permits for foreigners in Western Europe has an enormous impact amongst Romanians as well. In a struggling economic context – with increasing unemployment and high risk of poverty – determined by the transition to market liberalism (neoliberalism), a considerable number of Romanians seek financial security in western societies (i.e. Italy and Spain). Besides self-evident structural effects of international migration, considering the mezzo level, families and households, present paper aims to understand how geographic distance influence adult-child – parent relationships. Comparing functional intergenerational solidarity between the time prior to migration and the current period, while at least one adult child lives in a different country, different patterns of family solidarities are to be expected. This is relevant due to the great importance which is given to the family cohesion.