Accepted Paper:

Sending love through infant formula: (re)making of the Chinese transnational family in Europe  

Author:

Martina Bofulin (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU))

Paper short abstract:

In my paper, based on a fieldwork conducted in a community of origin as well as settlement of Chinese migrants in Europe, I focus on a particular object flow of infant formula (breast-feeding milk supplement) between mothers, settled in Slovenia, and their children »left behind« in China.

Paper long abstract:

Through investigation of objects of private use send to people who stay »behind« the making and workings of transnational family can be depicted. In my paper, based on a fieldwork conducted in a community of origin as well as settlement of Chinese migrants in Europe, I focus on a particular object flow of infant formula (breast-feeding milk supplement) between mothers, settled in Slovenia, and their children »left behind« in China. As Landolt and Da (2005) have pointed out, the family involved in the migration process has to adapt to new conditions, while continuing to meet the same set of needs. In this view, the regular flow of sending packages of infant formula to one's home acquires representative function of providing for one's children on daily bases. This kind of long distance parenting enables the protagonists to construct alternative views on notions of family and child care, which are more in line with the challenges of migration process.

Panel W018
Material culture, migration and the transnational imaginary