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Accepted Paper:

Transnational family makings of African migrant health workers  
Silvia Wojczewski (Medical University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Transnational family studies are investigating the manifold manners in which family networks from different social and cultural backgrounds care for each other over the distance. This paper analyses transnational family settings of African migrant health-workers and the meanings of care.

Paper long abstract:

Mobility and absence are common features of family life for many around the world. Transnational family studies are investigating the manifold manners in which family networks from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds care for each other over the distance; including emotional, economic and practical support. Drawing from a research project with African migrant health workers living in European or African destinations this paper analyses the organization of family life with distant relatives. In what kind of family settings are migrant health workers living? Most importantly all the migrant health workers from the study are not individual adult-workers that can be understood without their social network. Their future plans and their mobility patterns are highly dependent on their family network but also on fictive kin (friendships). Travelling back and forth between destination and home country, whether international or intercontinental, is part of the migrant's life. From the interviews we could define a variety of family settings; from living alone in the destination to living with nuclear plus extended family everything seems possible. Besides relatives, friends and ongoing work relations in the home country many respondents also create a link to their home country by constructing and buying houses/properties. "Care" is an important feature for maintaining and strengthening kin relations over the distance and over time. It has to be considered in a very broad manner including physical, emotional and material care-giving. "Care" as analytical category offers a variety of options to study (fictive) kin relations and questions of belonging in transnational migration.

Panel P137
The future of global belonging: anthropological legacies of kinship studies
  Session 1