Family dynamics, gender and return migration: a look beyond assumptions of solidarities

Stephanie Condon, National Demographic Studies Institute (INED) Paris, France

Alongside economic factors, family ties are often presented as part of the explanation for either non-return or, on the contrary, return migration. In the first instance, ties to family (particularly offspring) in the immigration destination are often the given reason (especially by women) for not returning (Cribier, 1992; Pinto Coehlo, 1997; Condon, 2004). In the second, just as family is a facilitator of migration (Boyd, 1989; Chaney, 1987), return is encouraged by the strength of transnational family ties, the wish to be close to family members, or at least to family roots (King and Christou, 2011).
This paper intends to contribute to the debate on how the category ‘family’ is used in migration literature (Kofman, 2004; Baily and Boyle, 2004), showing how a gender lens can be a key to a fuller understanding of return migration. Studies on return migration (as too transnationalism) have tended to overlook the role of gender in the process or otherwise have treated gender as a demographic variable amongst others. Research on transnational families has increasingly taken on board gender issues (Parrenas, 2005; Kofman, Kraler, Kholi, Schmoll, 2011), mainly from the point of view of reunification processes in the country of immigration or relating to transnational care.
Based on a case study of post-colonial migration to France (from the French Caribbean), the role of family is looked at critically and shown to be as much an obstacle to return migration (preventing return or making resettlement difficult: Sinatti, 2011; Hunter, 2013 ; Condon and Beaugendre, 2014) as a facilitator in migration. Family relationships considered are parental, those with offspring or with intimate partners and as sites of conflict as much as solidarity. A mixed methodology is used, based on interviews conducted during the 1990s and 2000s and the data base from a recent biographical survey conducted in the French overseas regions (Ined, 2010)

About the speaker
Stephanie Condon is full-time researcher at INED (National Demographic Studies Institute) in Paris. Her work mainly focuses on gender and migration, in particularly on migration from the Caribbean.

Venue: UNU-MERIT, Boschstraat 24, room 0.16

Date: 19 November 2015

Time: 15:15 - 16:15  CET