Migrant Families’ Assemblages of Care between Mobility, Immobility and Permanent Crisis

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Anna AMELINA, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, Germany
The presentation focuses on outcomes of an explorative empirical study of mobile individuals (and their transnational families) from Syria and Afghanistan who arrived in Germany during and after the ‘long summer of 2015’. The central question addressed is: How do the transnational families of forced migrants secure the various forms of care and social protection despite their family members being located in different countries?

Synthesizing theories of care, assemblage and gender relations, the presentation introduces the concept of care assemblage, which makes it possible to approach forms of and barriers to migrant families’ care organization at different analytical levels. Starting with an analysis of the micro-level of cross-border families, the paper shows that the organization of care among distant family members in the process of forced migration is best addressed as ‘permanent crisis’. This ‘permanent crisis’ developed during the Afghan and Syrian movers’ journeys to Europe and became the most dominant narrative in the course of their movements. These findings are framed by an analysis of the marco-level of institutional opportunities that shape forced migrant families’ agency. The paper identifies institutional constraints imposed by the nexus of (multiscalar) asylum and family policies. Restrictions on family reunification were imposed in Germany in the spring of 2016. Along with the increased securitization of asylums policies, they contribute to the situation of ‘permanent crisis’ identified above.

In addition to the micro- and macro-levels of analysis, the concept of care assemblage considers the meso-level of cross-border solidarity movements, networks and migrant associations, which often function for migrant families as agents of transnational solidarity. By providing medical and other types of care, these actors become essential ‘transmission devices’ of care, particularly for members of transnational families who cannot themselves move.