With near and distant kin: growing up in transnational families
Ulla Vuorela (University of Tampere)
Anna Rastas (Tampere University)
Paper short abstract:
We discuss the challenges posed by transnational family histories and dispersed living to a sense of belonging. We propose that anthropology of childhood and transnationalism needs to shift the focus from discussing ethnic identities to transnational subjectivities and multi-sited life-paths.
Paper long abstract:
We draw attention to an under researched topic in the anthropology of childhood: growing up in transnational families. While parents need to make important decisions about caring for their children in the context of family diaspora, the perspective of children also needs to be given attention. The challenges that children face may be related to an absence of one or both parents from home or with their own mobility, related to the multi-sited location of the families. With whom or with which place do the children feel connected to, who do they see as their significant caretakers? How do children find their comforts? How do children imagine their life situations and life chances? Children with transnational life paths may also face challenges from surrounding society, regardless of the safety provided to them by the homes. We propose that anthropology of childhood and transnationalism needs to shift the focus from discussing ethnic identities to transnational subjectivities and multi-sited life-paths. The paper is based on our ethnographic and theoretical work . Vuorela speaks of lessons learned about immigrant childhood in Finland, children tended by NGOS between Russia and Western Europe and of the ways in which childcare has been organized by transnational families based in Pakistan. Rastas has studied various kinds of racism encountered by Finnish children with transnational roots; We address methodological and conceptual challenges in doing research on multi-sited childhood; how to consider the breath-taking variety of transnational families and the kind of agencies that circumscribe their lives.
Children and migration in Europe: between new citizenships and transnational families