A Mother’s Heart is Weighed Down with Stones: A Phenomenological Approach to the Experience of Transnational Motherhood

Original Paper

Abstract

Although recent scholarship on transnational mothers has rigorously examined the effect of migration on gender constructs and ideologies, it neglects analysis of the lived experience of separated mothers and children. In privileging the exploration of transnational separations through the single analytical lens of gender, such research reduces the embodied distress of mothers and children to mere “gender false consciousness.” This paper calls upon anthropologists to redress this oversight by undertaking a phenomenological analysis of the lived experience of transnational motherhood. Eschewing an analysis of mothers and children as isolated social roles, I show that the suffering of mothers and children is profoundly relational. Through analysis of the narratives of undocumented Salvadoran mothers residing in the U.S., I show how the strain of such mothers’ undocumented status is lived and shouldered within the intersubjective space of the family.

Keywords

Migration Transnational families Phenomenology Gender Illegality 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Colorado, DenverDenverUSA

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