The gendered burden of transnational care-receiving: Sudanese families across The Netherlands, the UK and Sudan

Ester Serra Mingot

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Care circulated within transnational family networks is a crucial element in transnational social protection arrangements, based on a system of reciprocity between migrants and their families ‘back home’. Recent studies have shown the complexities of transnational caregiving arrangements, yet the focus has remained on the provision of care between parents and children, largely neglecting the intricacies of care-receiving within extended family networks. Care may feel differently depending on the perspective of either the provider or the receiver. Despite the caregiver’s good intentions, care might be experienced as a burden by the receiver. Moreover, as a culturally embedded practice, receiving care across culturally and geographically distant contexts may present additional challenges. This paper addresses this gap and investigates the agency of female care-receivers to navigate the care provided by different family members abroad, while protecting themselves and their children’s wellbeing. Rather than focusing on caregiving practices between parents and children, this article addresses care dynamics within the extended family. Drawing on a multi-sited matched-sample ethnography with Sudanese transnational families across the Netherlands, the UK and Sudan, I examine the strategies of these women to manoeuvre the reception of unwanted care while avoiding conflict with their relatives and gaining control of their own and their children’s bodies. In exploring the intricacies of care-receiving in transnational family networks, I analyse how geographical distance may exacerbate the perception of different care needs, while at the same time giving the care-receivers more space to navigate the reception of unsolicited care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Place and Culture : a Journal of Feminist Geography
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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