Gender and Family Transformation in Globalization's Wake: The Indo-Trinidadian Case

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:50
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kamini GRAHAME, The Pennsylvania State University, USA
There continues to be much debate about globalization, the scope of its economic and cultural effects, and its impact on gender relations (Acker 2004; Giddens 1990; Ritzer 2004; Schaeffer 1997; Steger 2010).  Giddens argues that "local transformation is as much a part of globalisation as the lateral extension of social connections across time and space" (1990: 64, Giddens’ emphasis) and Connell (2000) contends that in the post-colonial era, implementation of neo-liberal policies is transforming the “world gender order.” Both masculinities and femininities are being re-configured in ways that remain to be more fully explored. Post-colonial economic restructuring in many parts of the world reorganized both men’s and women’s work with concomitant transformations in family life. Research on globalization processes often pays insufficient attention to the transformations within the family regarding gender roles.

This paper examines gender role changes among Indo-Trinidadian families in the post-colonial era. Interviews were conducted with over 60 men and women in Trinidad, West Indies. They spanned two generations—those who raised families after WW 2 period (a period of decolonization) and their children who began raising families as globalization intensified. Their experience is more complex than labor force involvement for women, since the latter were already productively engaged as indentured laborers and later as free agricultural workers. One significant change has been from arranged marriages to marriages of choice--a mark of the empowerment of women (Grahame 2006). This paper focuses on changes in women’s and men’s roles in reproductive work and analyses the conditions under which these changed. Notably, data reveal some men’s growing engagement in affective work in relation to children. Rural/urban and class dimensions of change are explored.