Changing Caring Practices and Ideals: The Effects of Intergenerational Transmission and Migration on Transnational Family Life

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Lidewyde BERCKMOES , Technology and Society Studies, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
This paper combines a life-cycle and migration history perspective to explore the influence of intergenerational transmission and transnational caring arrangements on changing ideals and practices in family life. By investigating past and current family life of African parents in the Netherlands, the paper aims to identify how migration and individual family experiences intersect and impact on emerging transnational family ideals and practices.

The paper focuses on Angolan and Nigerian parents in the Netherlands with children abroad. The history and migration trajectory of parents from respective countries differs and influences the economic and emotional challenges they face in the Netherlands and with regards to caring for their children. These differences in the crises and mobilities are described, yet the analysis goes beyond country/group level variation. The paper explores how individual family history impacts on transnational family life. To what extent do parents view transnational caring arrangements as new phenomena in the family? Are experiences with fostering, rural-urban migration or separation through war - to different degrees applicable to Angolan and Nigerian migrants - experienced as precursors of the transnational experience? How do childhood experiences affect the imagined roles and responsibilities of parents, and how does distance affect these ideals? To what extent is migration perceived and hoped to be part of their children’s’ lives? What do parents hope or fear will be their children’s role in caring for them at old age?

To answer these questions about the ways that individual life histories intersect with intergenerational transmission and migration, the paper uses ‘family life history’ interviews with 2x15 parents from respective countries. This methodology combines in-depth semi-structured and life history interviewing techniques. The research forms part of a comparative programme on transnational child caring arrangements with African families in various European and African countries.