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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/s3g6-y989

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Hardship, Care, and the Contraction of Child Fostering Practices: Shifting Boundaries of Relatedness in Cameroonian Transnational Families



immigration and diasporas

kinship and families

“En France, les parents sont différents, ma famille là-bas c'est à l’infini! Je ne sais pas même c'est qui est qui.” This contrast between expansive Bamiléké families in Cameroon and the boundary-drawing practices of the Cameroonian diaspora in Europe remind us that recent transnational migration combined with the cultivation of cosmopolitan middle-class selves has led many Bamiléké to reconfigure ideas and practices of relatedness. The shifting boundaries of relatedness are particularly relevant with regard to kinship obligations surrounding the care of children.   Drawing on fieldwork in Cameroon, Germany, and France, this paper poses two broad questions regarding kinship, migration, and social class. First, how do middle-class Bamiléké migrants to Europe and their relatives in Cameroon manage “kin-scription,” or “the practice of assigning kin-work to family members” (Stack and Burton 1993, 157)? Second, how might the changing nature of kin-work•in this case, new ideas about what it means to raise a child properly•affect these processes of kin-scription?    Concretely, what accounts for the curiously sharp reduction in child fostering among middle-class Bamiléké migrants and return migrants? This contribution explores just one among many interacting explanations for the contraction of child fostering•changing ideas about hardship with regard to middle-class Bamiléké migrants’ child rearing strategies. In preferring cultivation over toughening for their own children, and deflecting potential conflict with kin, these cosmopolitan Bamiléké withdraw from previously common practices of child fostering.


Transcript English (automatic)

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