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The University of Southampton
Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Enacting Citizenship: Migration, gender, performing theory and methods Seminar

14:00 - 16:00
27 January 2015
Building 58 room 2097

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Lisa Sugiura at .

Event details

Sociology seminar

This talk reflects on research with participatory theatre methods with a group of migrant mothers in East London. Drawing on the migrant women’s knowledges shared and developed in the participatory theatre sessions, it asks how we can re-envisage critical theories of citizenship. Although the family is itself changing and a gender-neutral language of parenting is emerging in the UK, it is still overwhelmingly mothers who care for children. Mothers play an important role in constructing national identities: on one hand as symbols of the nation, embodying its values, on the other, as transmitting culture and values to the next generation, as well as biologically and socially reproducing the group. Thus, mothers are tasked, sometimes in contradictory ways, with safeguarding group continuity, whilst also shaping change in the face of the challenges of the new. However, we cannot think of mothering as a homogeneous set of norms, values and practices. While research and policy often focuses on how migrant mothers can be better integrated, this approach asks what we can learn by understanding the caring, cultural and social practices of migrant women as interventions into citizenship. Reframing migrant mothers as citizens throws into relief some of the contradictions of contemporary multi-ethnic societies and the ways they envisage their futures.

Speaker information

Dr Umut Erel, The Open University. Umut's research interests are in migration, ethnicity, gender and class. She is interested in how these issues play out in practices of citizenship, differentiated along gender and ethnic lines. Currently she is exploring migrant women’s mothering practices as citizenship practices in their own right and with respect to shaping their children’s ethnic, cultural, political identities and modes of citizenship. She recently co-edited (with Fiona Williams and Deborah Brennan) a Special Issue of Social Politics on ‘Transnational Care: Changing Formations of Citizenship, Family and Generation’ (March 2012) and with Helma Lutz a Special Issue of European Journal of Women’s Studies on ‘Gender and Transnationalism’ (November 2012). Recent publications include 2009: Migrant Women Transforming Citizenship. Aldershot: Ashgate; ‘Reframing Migrant Mothers as Citizens’, Citizenship Studies Nov. 2011, Complex belongings: Racialization and migration in a small English city, Ethnic and Racial Studies Dec 2012, ‘Migrating Cultural Capital: Bourdieu in Migration Studies’ Sociology 2010 vol. 44:4 (642-660), ‘Engendering transnational space: Migrant mothers as cultural currency speculators’, Special Issue on Gender and Transnationalism of European Journal of Women’s Studies, vol 19 (1) November 2012, pp. 460-74; ‘Kurdish Migrant mothers enacting citizenship’ Citizenship Studies, Special issue on Reproducing Citizenship, December 2013, and a co-edited book with Louise Ryan and Alessio D'Angelo 'Migrant Capital: Networks, Identities, Strategies' (Palgrave) is out in early 2015.

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