Accepted paper:

Connected care: everyday ICT use in elderly care provision in Indian transnational families


Tanja Ahlin (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Based on recent fieldwork data, this paper explores the practical and theoretical implications of everyday ICT (such as mobile phones and the Internet) used by Indian nurses, who migrated for work from Kerala to the Middle East, to provide care to their elderly parents remaining at home.

Paper long abstract:

Around the world, ICT is becoming increasingly used in care provision at a distance, for example to chronic patients, through projects implemented by health care institutions. But what about ICT use in informal care provision at a distance within families? This paper examines the use of everyday ICT, such as mobile phones and the Internet, to provide care to the elderly in Indian transnational families. In India, life expectancy is increasing, which contributes to significant population ageing and raises important concerns in terms of health provision, organization and financing. At the same time, Indian women increasingly migrate abroad as nurses to provide care for somebody in a foreign country while leaving their dependent children or elderly parents behind, a phenomenon known as global care chains. In this context, the use of everyday ICT has contributed to the emergence of transnational social space, where everyday life practices and social networks are maintained across countries and often continents. The combination of intensified migration and increased availability and accessibility of everyday ICT has also had a significant impact on care. Based on recent fieldwork data, this paper focuses on what happens to care practices for the elderly when physical distance is introduced in the relations between family members, and how ICT are used to mitigate this distance. By describing specific examples of ICT use for care in Indian transnational families, the author investigates how care is provided to the ageing body at a distance.

panel P28
ICTs, biopolitics and health: making and unmaking bodies and persons in a world of globalised telecommunications