Young LeidenASA lecture: Protecting across Borders

21 maart 2019 @ 13:00 – 14:30
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Sudanese Families across the Netherlands, the UK and Sudan. Ester Serra Mingot defended her dissertation at Maastricht University in December 2018. Her Young LeidenASA lecture is based on her disseration, in which she investigates how Sudanese migrants in the Netherlands and the UK, and their families back home navigate their social protection, locally and across borders.

In our current globalised world, more and more people choose or are pushed to live across national borders, developing attachments and responsibilities in more than one nation-state. Yet, the traditional formal social protection systems have been envisaged to cater for sedentary populations, tied to one single country.

Against this backdrop, this dissertation investigates the strategies that migrants develop to cover for their own and/or their families’ social protection needs, encompassing a series of formal and informal elements from different institutions (e.g. states, markets, third-sector organisations or informal social networks). It shows that the boundaries between formal and informal categories are blurred when we look at the multiple combinations of institutional arrangements that migrants and their families use.

By taking the extended family as the main analytical unit, this dissertation shows that even though certain formal resources are available for individual migrants, they might not be the preferred option for the family’s social protection. In fact, the flexible character of the informal intra-familial provisions might be preferred, since they allow for covering for several intertwined domains, binding family members together in a web of intergenerational reciprocity that expands over time and beyond national boundaries. By including the Sudanese context, this dissertation points to the importance of the sending country’s sociocultural rules on how intra-familial support—especially care—should be provided. Indeed, care is a crucial element in the social protection arrangements of transnational families, which highly depends on cultural notions of gender roles in the sending society.

This dissertation is based on the data collected over 14 months of multi-sited and partly matched-sample ethnography across the Netherlands, the UK and Sudan where the migrants and their families live. The transnational approach and the multi-sited matched-sample design, allowed to incorporate data from the migrants and their non-migrant families, across sending and receiving countries. This allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which contexts shape social protection arrangements, locally and transnationally.