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Accepted Paper:

Cruel optimism towards precarious future making: gendered transformations of parental responsibilities in rural West Africa  
Erdmute Alber (University of Bayreuth)

Paper short abstract:

In rural West Africa, parental responsibilites are undergoing deep transformations as a consequence of global educational campaigns. My paper analyzes these processes in a relational perspective situating kinship moralities as means of future building, reflecting national and global change.

Paper long abstract:

In rural West Africa, kinship-based parental responsibilites are currently undergoing deep transformations as a consequence of global educational campaigns. My paper aims at analyzing them in a relational perspective that centers kinship moralities as an important means of future building. Kinship moralities are understood as processes of educating future generations, reproducing and transmitting properties and ressources over time, and co-producing ever-changing global and national political economies.Focussing on case studies of shifting parental responsibilities in northern Benin, I describe a drama of failure: kinship-based processes of future-building are mostly not meeting parents‘ expectations. Despite the big globally induced schooling campains that aimed at realizing the Millennium Goal of „Schooling for all“ with the related promise of development through education, and despite the immense parental investitions necessary to pay for childrens´ schooling trajectories, most peasant children drop out of school early. Even among the few who arrive at the secondary level, only an exceptional few manage to integrate into the formal labour market.This creates frustrations among parents, who nevertheless accept to be responsible for the costs not only of generalized schooling, but also of unexpected pregnancies, apprenticeships, marriages and the care for grandchildren. Analyzing changing parental responsibilities in the face of rising educational costs, I want to draw attention to the fact that global and national policies of future making, as realized in schooling policies, are paralleled by seemingly „private“, and thus largely overlooked, changing and gendered notions and responsibilities of kinship.

Panel Mora03a
Kinship, gender and the politics of responsibility I
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -