Transnational care: Families confronting borders, Special Issue of the Journal of Family Research

By December 9, 2020Blog, Events

Merla L., Kilkey M. & Baldassar L. (2020) Transnational care: Families confronting borders, Special Issue of the Journal of Family Research, Volume 32, Issue 3.


MRG Co-Director, Professor Majella Kilkey, co-edits Special Issue on Transnational care: Families confronting borders

Notwithstanding the border closures occurring in 2020-21 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kilkey and her colleagues, Laura Merla and Loretta Baldassar argue that people are increasingly confronted with what has been termed the ‘immobility regime’ (Turner 2007). Motivated variously by a desire to assert their nation-state sovereignty, to protect their labour markets and welfare states, to exclude the ‘terrorist’ or racialized ‘other’, and to get (re-)elected, governments are responding to mobile populations (including the potentially mobile), with the policies and rhetoric of “closure, entrapment and containment” (Shamir 2005: 199).

This Special Issue asks: Where do care and family relations fit in such processes? It presents a set of articles that collectively examines the implications for the circulation of care across borders among migrant and refugee family networks in the context of what Merla, Kilkey and Baldassar, in their contribution, refer to as ‘immobilizing regimes of migration’:

                                ‘The combination of state immigration policies around migrants’ entry, settlement and social, economic and political            incorporation, as well as hegemonic constructions of migrants and migration. These immobilizing regimes block the physical mobility of some, while granting highly conditional mobility to others, resulting in situations of enforced and permanent temporariness and ontological insecurity. These have immobilizing consequences for the trajectories of transnational care circulation over time, in particular the capacity for short-term visits, long-term re/expatriation and circular mobility within family networks’.

The contributions to the Special Issue examine a range of contexts, including countries such as Germany (Amelina & Bause) and Finland (Näre), which implemented a string of fast-paced changes to their refugee and asylum policies following the large number of refugee arrivals in 2015-16 from Syria and the wider Middle East. Many of the new arrivals came as individuals, with their family members dispersed throughout countries of origin and countries of transit, potentially posing significant challenges for the maintenance of familial relationships and solidarities. Other articles focus on border contexts that have become highly politicized in recent years, including the border between the UK and the EU, which following ‘Brexit,’ will be governed by a new migration regime from 1st January 2021, with implications for the transnational family rights of EU citizen migrants in the UK (Radziwinowiczówna, Rosińska & Kloc-Nowak). Another border that is also carefully examined in this Special Issue is that separating the USA and Mexico. As the last stage of the migration corridor from the Global South to the USA, not only has the border itself become increasingly securitized, but border control practices have been pushed further south into Mexico. The result is that those transiting through the country face the risk of detention and deportation, and their (transnational) care capacities are severely challenged (Willers). Finally, the remaining articles focus on contexts characterized by a more generalized restrictionist drift in migration policies, including Australia, the UK and Belgium (Brandhorst; Merla, Kilkey & Baldassar).

Emerging from a Joint Session organised by the editors between RC 31 Migration & RC 06 Family Research at the 2018 ISA World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, Canada, the contributions to the Special Issue are:

Merla L., Kilkey M. & Baldassar L.:  Introduction

Amelina A & Bause N: Forced migrant families’ assemblages of care and social protection between solidarity and inequality

Näre, L: Family lives on hold: Bureaucratic bordering in male refugees’ struggle for transnational care

Willers, S: Changing mobility regimes and care: Central American women confronting processes of entrapment in Southern Mexico

Radziwinowiczówna A., Kloc-Nowak W. & Rosińska A.: Envisaging post-Brexit immobility: Polish migrants’ care intentions concerning their elderly parents

Brandhorst R. : A regimes-of-mobility-and-welfare approach: The impact of migration and welfare policies on transnational social support networks of older migrants in Australia

Merla L., Kilkey M. & Baldassar L.: Examining transnational care circulation trajectories  within immobilizing regimes of migration : Implications for proximate care