Accepted Paper:

Pursuing the Desire for a Child in the Context of Germany's Politics of Reception and Arrival for Refugees  

Author:

Marie Fröhlich (University of Göttingen)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research in the field of maternity care for refugee women in Lower Saxony, Germany, I will show how these women's diverse reproductive hopes challenged local infrastructures, raised moral debates and shed light on the highly stratified access to reproductive health care.

Paper long abstract:

During the past years, significant numbers of refugees have come to Germany - among them a large number of women of child-bearing age. In my paper, I will draw on ethnographic research I carried out in the field of maternity care for refugee women and give insights into negotiations about the desire to have children within this context.

First, I will introduce a group of young women who tried to get pregnant because they (mistakenly) thought their legal status and chances to settle might become safer with a child born on German soil. Second, I will talk about several women who by the time of my research already did have a safe legal status, but who were not able to conceive. Now, knowing they'd be able to stay, they wanted to begin or resume an ART treatment.

As I will show, both of these groups with diverse reproductive ambitions had to face similar major challenges within the confining German medico-legal nexus of maternity care for refugee women. But the challenge was mutual, as these women also significantly disconcerted the local structures of reception: their struggles raised moral debates in municipal reception politics and shed light on the highly stratified access to the sector of reproductive health/maternity care, depending on status and race.

My paper thus will contribute to the debate around reproductive aspirations from the context of migration- and border-studies and will show how the legitimacy of pursuing the desire for children is mediated and negotiated in this specific context.

Panel P071
Reproductive aspirations and trajectories within movement/settlement across borders