Navigating Motherhood and Social Relationships: A Comparison of Movers and Stayers in the U.S. and Mexico

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Heather EDELBLUTE, University of Texas at San Antonio, USA
International migration changes relationship dynamics both for those who move to a new country and for the loved ones who stay in migrant-sending communities.  The implications of these shifting dynamics on family functioning depend on a person’s place in the life course and their social location.  This study compares the role of kinship ties and institutional contexts in shaping processes of family formation and growth using in-depth interviews with Mexican immigrant women in the U.S. (n=16) and non-migrant women in Guanajuato, Mexico with immigrant spouses (n=25).  In particular, this study focuses on the degree to which kinship ties can serve as a source of support or stress during and after women’s first and subsequent pregnancies.  By examining the role of social relationships across women’s childbearing trajectories, this research highlights the shifting role of transnational family dynamics that come with time and family growth.  Specific attention is paid to the ways in which both transnational and local kinship ties serve as an informal safety net as well as a link to accessing formal health care and social services in the U.S.  At the same time, this study draws attention to how shifting institutional contexts in both Mexico and the U.S. alter the role of social ties for women across their childbearing trajectories.  Finally, this study illustrates the gendered dimensions through which undocumented status shapes social relationships and family processes both for the women who migrate and the non-migrant spouses of immigrants in Mexico.  When taken together, the findings from this study contribute to our understanding of how gender, social context, and citizenship structure the social reproductive worlds of women impacted by international migration in diverse ways.