Migrant mothers caring for the future
Creative interventions in making new citizens
In this paper, I explore Norwegian Pakistani mothers' rearing of their children, emphasising the hopes and aspirations they have for children's geographical and socio-economic mobility. I am specifically concerned with the ways in which mothers, who themselves have migrated or are second generation migrants married transnationally, understand their rearing as 'double', with implications for how they simultaneously negotiate local and transnational belonging. I analyse the ways in which mothers deal with the inherent dilemmas in this 'doubleness', exemplified by language and language acquisition. Children's language acquisition is of particular concern also to national authorities, and an element that is actively used to govern and negotiate citizenship, diversity and belonging by parents and employees in local institutions.
Exploring motherhood as an intimate practice and as a tool of participatory belonging, and the family as a site of governance, the Oslo fieldwork is conducted in mothers' homes and local institutional spaces such as mother and child health clinics, kindergartens, 'open kindergartens', and parental courses over a period of 20 months. Methods include participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Finally, in this paper, I reflect on positionality in cross-cultural research, and argue that rather than exploring the researcher and those researched in a dual opposition of insider/outsider, it is necessary for the researcher to negotiate 'shifting coordinates' as a way of identifying common grounds and gaining access to subjects' experiences and life worlds.
Ida Erstad is currently conducting her PhD in social anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research is centred on motherhood among Norwegian Pakistanis, and is conducted mainly in Alna, an ethnically diverse borough in Oslo, but also in families' places of origin in Pakistan. Ida has previously worked on prostitution in Norway, and health, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
In 2011 Édouard Glissant shared with the journalist Fréderic Joignot his observation on the fluidity of Europe's borders and its Archipelagean Becoming. Bringing Europe closer to the epistemic grounds of 'Antilleanity' (Glissant, 1981; Wynter, 1989), Glissant discusses this latter not as a Caribbean singularity, but as a forceful episteme (Wynter, 1989), through which the world can be thought in the Gestalt of creolization. This understanding of creolization introduces us to a notion of 'living together' departing from a critical race and decolonial perspective. Translating this concept to Europe and setting it in relation to diasporic networks, I will draw on interviews on 'making homes', conducted with members of Spanish and Latin American networks in Manchester between 2010 and 2012 and their attempts to create networks of support in the city. It is from this angle that I will engage with the epistemological, ethical and political dimension of care.
Prof. Dr. Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez is Professor of Sociology at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany. She studied sociology, political science, and Romance languages in Frankfurt / Main, Lyon, and Quito, Ecuador. She has taught and worked at the universities of Manchester and Hamburg, as well as in the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Switzerland. Her areas of interest include global inequality and its local manifestations, and the application of a post-Marxist and decolonial perspective on migration, labor, and culture. Amongst her publications are Migration, Domestic Work and Affect (Routledge, 2010), Decolonizing European Sociology (with M. Boatca & S. Costa, Ashgate, 2010).
This paper will reflect on the process of seeing and acting migrant mothers stories in playback and forum theatre. We will discuss how participatory theatre based methods can create a space where migrant mothers articulate and enact a shared sense of identity, citizenship and build on their Capabilities. As well as how this active, dialogical and visceral processes can inform social research. Extracts of video recordings, if ready, will be shown to illustrate the presentation.
Erene Kaptani is a HCPC registered Drama therapist, performer and researcher. She has been working with Studio Upstairs arts community since 2008 and has been a co-applicant for Identity Performance and refugees research project, ESRC funded. She co-wrote and produced Suspended Lives play shown in Rich mix and Tara Arts part of the research and co-devised and produced 'Episodes' and 'London stories' performance pieces for Studio Upstairs shown in Arcola Theatre, Amnesty International and Gillette Square. She created Forum Theatre pieces for Roma support group and different communities in London and abroad. Erene uses theatre to question constructions of identities, institutional and public communications as well as creating spaces/events for debate and interaction among different audiences. Erene is a member of Playback South theatre company and has been published in several journals and is associate artist with UEL,centre on research for migration refugees and belonging.
Childbearing in any society is a biological event, but the birth experience is also socially constructed. It takes place within a cultural context and is shaped by the perceptions and practices of that culture. Therefore, many beliefs and practices relating to childbearing process must be observed by the woman and her family to ensure the health and well-being of herself and her newborn baby. Different cultural sensibilities need to be understood not only as a matter of cultural tolerance, but because they may have a direct effect on the health and well-being of a mother and her newborn as well as the use of health services. A knowledge of existing patterns of childbirth beliefs and practices amongst women should be a prime concern in establishing maternal health programs. This knowledge can improve our understanding of women's acceptance or rejection of certain practices and health resources. When misunderstanding and mismanagement are eliminated, there will be better health care delivery for consumers from different cultural backgrounds.
But how do we acquire culturally appropriate knowledge from individual women who come from different cultural backgrounds? I contend that it is only through qualitative inquiry which allows us to work closely with the participants, and allows us to build trust and rapport with them. The women have their opportunities to articulate their needs and concerns in great depth. But will orthodox qualitative methods be sensitive and appropriate enough for immigrant mothers? Do we need to look for more innovative methods so that the women can express their needs better? In this paper, I will discuss several innovative methods that we can adopt in our childbearing research including the drawing method, diary method and photovoice method.
Pranee Liamputtong holds a Personal Chair in Public Health at the School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Pranee has previously taught in the School of Sociology and Anthropology, La Trobe University. Pranee has a particular interest in issues related to cultural and social influences on childbearing, childrearing and women's reproductive and sexual health. She has published several books and a large number of papers in these areas. Some of her recent books in these areas include: The journey of becoming a mother amongst women in northern Thailand (Lexington Books, 2007); Motherhood and postnatal depression: Narratives of women and their partners, for Springer (Springer, 2011); Women, motherhood and living with HIV/AIDS: A cross-cultural perspective (Springer, 2013).
Pranee is a qualitative researcher and has also published several method books. Some important texts include: Researching the vulnerable: A guide to sensitive research methods (Sage, 2007); Performing qualitative cross-cultural research (Cambridge University Press, 2010) ); Focus group methodology: Principlea and practice (Sage, 2011); Research methods in health: Foundation for evidence-based practice, 2nd edn (Oxford University Press, 2013); Qualitative research methods, 4th edn (Oxford University Press, 2013).