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P055
Mothering Practices in times of Legal Precarity
Convenors:
Magdalena Suerbaum (Max Planck Institute)
Laurie Lijnders (SOAS, University of London)
Format:
Panels
Time zone:
UTC+1
Sessions:
Tuesday 21 July, 14:00-15:45

Short abstract:

Zooming into the lifeworlds of forcibly displaced women who are mothers while struggling with receiving a stable, long-term legal status in their respective host country, we explore their everyday negotiations in the context of reproduction, childbirth and parenting.

Long abstract:

A growing number of pregnant women, mothers and their children are amongst people from countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, often irregularly crossing sea and land borders with the use of people smugglers to seek asylum in Europe. This panel focuses on their life-worlds and their engagement in mothering practice, while living with a precarious legal status. We explore the ways in which intersecting oppressions impact on mothers who experience asylum and border regimes. Juggling legal precarity is draining, informs the everyday life immensely and challenges the preservation of emotional intimacy to children who remain in the home country (Madziva & Zontini 2012, Horton 2009). Similarly, structural and institutional barriers in the host country impact on and often complicate women's mothering practices vis-à-vis their accompanying children. At the same time, however, women may find in the relationship to their children a zone of comfort and meaning in a hostile environment (Willen 2014). Women often became mothers before their arrival to the host country. Consequently, mothering shapes and is an inherent part of their memories of having lived in war-torn countries and of having fled. Thus, when applying the lens of motherhood to the study of forced migration, we get a different perspective on women's decisions and strategies, learning how their forced migration reconfigures their kin ties, senses of personhood and belonging (Grotti 2017). We invite abstracts that are based on thick ethnographic case studies from different parts of the globe, preferably inspired by phenomenological anthropology.