30. Mothering across borders: mobility, futures, and multiple time-spaces

In official discourse and media representations, migrant mothers have been alternatively victimized or made invisible. Observing inclusions, omissions and invisibilization in historical archives, Stoler (2009) coined the notion of ‘politics of disregard’ to define this selective process. A critical reading of the way these women and their children are depicted and driven by institutional practices helps to understand how motherhood and migration are combined in assigning a racialised subject position. In this panel we aim to investigate migrants’ mothering and subject position while making sense of their personal experiences along mobility trajectories. Imagined time and aspirations are intimately connected to the structural factors and socio-economic conditions of arrival settings. We propose to explore how ideas about motherhood and reproduction impact different migrant generations and the stratification of mobility. By discussing the maternal experience in migratory time-spaces, this panel will focus on agency, affective circuits (Cole, Groes 2016), aspirations and imagined futures as well as new forms of citizenship (Erel 2010). As scholars have shown, (slow) institutional timeframes for acquiring residency rights – temporary or otherwise – clash with the (urgent) biological timeframes of migrants, giving rise to specific timespaces for migrant mothers. Migrant mothers’ legal precarity generates “a space of hesitation” (Chakkour, de Koning 2022) and, in some cases, a more complex idea of the future. 

Key research questions might include: 
To what extent is the future of migrant mothers deeply connected to their children and affective circuits or breaks in such circuits? What tactics do they enact in their multiple spaces of uncertainty and desire, aspirations and realization? To what extent is migrant women’s motherhood constituted as a practice of citizenship through processes of local, national and transnational belonging-construction? 

We welcome scholars’ contributions from different theoretical perspectives and disciplines: anthropology, sociology, history, feminist and gender studies that have deeply engaged with ethnography as a methodological tool or source of data.

For an informed debate, we propose that the selected authors pre-circulate their papers. 

Cole J., Groes C. (2016) Affective Circuits: African Migrations to Europe and the Pursuit of Social Regeneration, University of Chicago Press.

Erel U. (2011) Reframing migrant mothers as citizens, Citizenship Studies 15 (6): 695-709.

Chakkour S., de Koning A. (2022) Legal precarity, migrant mothering and the space of hesitation in Paris, Ethnic and Racial Studies: 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2022.2075232

Stoler A. (2009) Along the archival grain: epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Key words: migrant motherhood, time-space, citizenship, affective circuits, imagining futures; space of hesitation.

List of Subdisciplines or Cross-Disciplinary areas of concern: 

Kinship and migration; gender and feminist studies; citizenship studies; history of mobility.

Convenors’ short profile:

Selenia Marabello, Msc London School of Economics and Political Science, Phd University of Bologna. She is currently a Senior Assistant Professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia where she teaches ethnography, anthropology of the contemporary world and anthropology of migration. She has extensive fieldwork experience in Italy and Ghana as well as experience coordinating research teams. Her research focuses on co-development, contemporary Ghanaian migrations, diasporic and political mobilization, gender studies and, more recently, applied medical anthropology, vulnerability and motherhood. She has published essays, books and articles in national and international journals. 

Martina Giuffrè, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Parma. She has extensive fieldwork experience in Cape Verde, Australia, the Aeolian Islands, Tuscany, Belgium, Spain and Romania. Her research topics concern gender issues, oral sources, migration and Roma issues. More recently, she has worked on contemporary family and transnational migrant motherhood. She has organized and coordinated various cultural initiatives and several national and international projects. Her publications include: Essere madri oggi tra biologia e cultura, Pacini, 2018; Uguali, diversi, normali, Castelvecchi. 2014; Vite (il)legali, Seid, 2013; L’Arcipelago Migrante, CISU, Rome, 2010;  Donne di Capo Verde, CISU, Rome, 2007.

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