Migrant Motherhood and Care-Giving As a Pathway to Integration? Delegation of Child Care in Vietnamese Immigrant Families and Its Consequences for Settlement

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Adela SOURALOVA, Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies, Czech Republic
This paper focuses on the role of social reproductive tasks (motherhood, child care) in migrant women’s lives and settlements. It looks into how the activities—so called “bridging activities”—that migrant women perform as a part of their social reproductive tasks shape the process of women’s integration in the new country. Many scholars argue that bridging activities include communication with bureaucracies, schools, incorporation into the local neighborhood, etc., and are normally performed by women in the country of origin. In the host country, however, these activities take on a new dimension (Kibria, 1993; Ryan, 2007). They become the means of integrating immigrant mothers, and establishing social capital and skills that help these women adapt to the new country. Based on my qualitative research on Vietnamese families and their Czech nannies I ask the following principal question: what happens when the care-giving (including the bridging activities) is delegated to another person? How does the role of mother—with its limited content—shape the women’s position in the new country? The paper shows that the delegation of “bridging activities” offers mothers the option not to participate in those activities, and so and thus not to integrate into majority society. As these bridging activities are performed first by nannies and then by children, nannies and children serve as mediators between parents and the host culture, and allow parents to not invest their time in anything else but their business (integration competences are no exception). Addressing this particular case of migrant mothers who do mother only in a limited way, the paper illuminates the key role of motherhood in women’s post-migratory settlement and contributes to the scholarly discussion on the meanings of (migrant) motherhood.