Tania Gonzalez, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Feelings set in motion. The significance of life courses and care circuits in transnational migration

Drawing on a long-term multi-sited fieldwork carried out in Spain and Bolivia, this presentation will focus on how family ties are maintained and reconfigured in a context of transnational migration with a particular emphasis on the emotional dimension of long-distance relationships. In this regard, life stages and family courses become crucial to an understanding of what it really implies to be distant from your family at some point in your lifetime. Following the theoretical framework of circulation of care developed by Baldassar and Merla (2014), and taking Bolivian migration to Spain as case study, my research attempts to bring into focus middle-aged migrant women and their relatives left behind. By doing so, I aim to highlight the impact of migration on family life courses when concrete caring demands (or caring desires) as well as emotional struggles are confronted. Working with just a few family networks but including the variety of ties within them, I seek to illustrate that these exchanges, rather than static or unidirectional, are subject to ongoing fluctuations and (re)negotiations. In this seminar I will reflect on how my research questions have been reshaped during the course of my fieldwork and present some preliminary findings. Finally, I will discuss our own position as researchers who, whilst investigating, also transit spaces of intimacy. What are the methodological and ethical implications in doing an ethnography of emotions? To what extent should our own feelings as they emerge during fieldwork be explicitly part of our writing or remain secret in our field notes?

Find out more about the Migration cluster at the Department of Social Anthropology.

All seminars in the series.