Migrant Family Display: A Strategy for Achieving Recognition and Validation in the Host Country

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Julie WALSH, The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Julie SEYMOUR, Hull York Medical School, United Kingdom
This paper draws on the narratives of ten migrant families living in a predominantly white British northern UK city, Hull, and brings together the typically distinct fields of the sociology of family, transnational family studies and migration studies. By uniquely applying the lens of family display to migrant family accounts, this article offers a timely new way to understand the strategies migrant families employ when negotiating recognition and validation in an increasingly globalised world. Existing applications of family display focus on what might be referred to as unconventional families: same-sex couples; dual-heritage families; single-parent households; families living in commercial homes. Further previous migration studies consider the strategies employed by migrant individuals, sometimes within a family, but do not do so through the lens of family display. The concept has not, then, been applied to migrant families and their everyday lives, and with a specific focus on understanding the influence of audience in family display. This paper, therefore, contributes to migration and transnational family studies by providing a new way of understanding migrant family lives, and also advancing the concept of family display in three clear ways: by showing that migrant families do display family to audiences beyond the family – including the State - so as to present as a ‘legitimate’ family; by expanding understanding of how family display is enacted; and by arguing that broader narratives, (anti-migrant/islamaphobic) influence those related to ‘family’ and impact on how and why migrant families engage in family displays.