Conference Agenda

RS05_06: Multi-local family life: Children’s experiences
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Laura Merla, UCLouvain
Location: GM.331
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Home Without Family? Young Migrants’ Experiences of Home, Place and Relationships in the City of Brussels.

Shannon Damery

University of Liège, Belgium

Home is rarely spoken of without the mention of family, but the meaning of both of these terms are being usefully interrogated by recent social science scholarship. While these concepts warrant further study in many areas, it has been the case that their reevaluation often emerges in studies of migration. It is through migration studies that traditional western ideas of family, as being nuclear and sharing the same physical space, and home, as being sedentary and synonymous with house, are disrupted and brought into question. When people move, by force or choice, it is an emotional time of transition, and it provides a window into many of the fundamental aspects of relationships, belonging and home. This paper builds on these evolutions by investigating the home-making, place attachment, and family connections of a group of young first generation migrants (aged 15-25) of different migratory statuses (undocumented, European citizens, refugees, unaccompanied minors) in the city of Brussels. By using data collected through fieldwork conducted with participants in traditionally non-home spaces, this paper reveals discoveries about the relationship between home, place and family, and how family may exist without home and home may exist without family.

Transnational Families’ “Habitus”: A Research On Generations Of Italians Living In Belgium

Marta Scocco, Isabella Crespi

University of Macerata, Italy

In recent years, many scholars addressed the transnational experience of families and a growing number of migration and family studies conceptualized international migrants and their kin as transnational families (Baldassar&Merla 2014).With increased mobility and improvements in both travel and communication technologies, more and more people are in fact experiencing transnational family lives.

In this contribution we take in consideration the concept of “transnational family habitus” (Reynolds&Zontini 2018) as a theoretical tool for making sense of the ways in which children and young people from a migrant background are doing families transnationally. Furthermore, we combine the transnational perspectives with multi-local one, in order to analyse the family relationships in the context of multiple places and localities within and across national borders (Schier et al. 2015)

The research presents results from a qualitative study drawing on 50 in-depth interviews realized with second and third generations of Italians living in Belgium in 2018/2019. Influenced by the work of Reynolds & Zontini, to better understand the consequences of the persistence of transnational network across the generations, firstly we develop the concept of “transnational family habitus”. In particular, we focus the attention on the ways in which families inform children’s practices, notions of identity and opportunities within and beyond national boundaries. Secondly, we analyse the conduct of everyday family life under mobile and multi-local conditions and specific strategies for maintaining relational attachments.

Keywords: Transnational family habitus, Italians in Belgium, migrants, generations, everyday family life, multi-local conditions.

Merging the Separated: Odor as a Medium of Cohesion and Belonging in Multi-local Families

Tino Schlinzig

Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

High risks of divorce and separation and the increasing involvement of fathers in child care promote residential models that enable children to participate in the everyday life of the separated parents. However family members in shared residence arrangements are confronted with the challenge to establish attachment and a sense of we-ness against the background of cyclical growth and reduction of the household community and the changing rhythms and patterns of their everyday life. The empirical material presented in this paper suggests that as part of identity policies parents and children oscillate between referring to the other household to create a cross-spatial sense of belonging and at the same time applying territorialisation practices to promote a local family identity (Schlinzig 2017). The establishment of a local social order and belonging is hereby stabilized and experienced also sensually. At this odors are of particular importance. They enable the creation of closeness and identification beyond verbal communication, have the potential to merge what is separate and at the same time to distinguish (Soeffner 2012, Largey/Watson (1972). Following Goffman's (1971) "Territories of the Self", this paper explores the olfactory dimension of cohesion in multi-local families after separation and divorce: (1) The "sheath" and thus odors attached to clothes can be interpreted as a medium for the (unintended) perception of absent others and reintegration of the returning children. Interviews with parents and children can also show that (2) the living space understood as a "stall" serves as an odor marker and identification mean, and (3) the odorisation of mobile objects is applied to establish co-presence in absence.