Accueil > Research > Theme 1. Reconfigurations of Contemporary Migrations

Program 1.2. Life cycle, family and mobilities

- Researchers : M. Lesclingand, F. Lestage, Z. Ouadah-Bedidi, S. Potot
- Doctoral students : L. Cuartas, Du Juan, S. Musinde Sangwa, D. Park

Mobility profoundly affects all the stage of the life cycle, from the earliest years of childhood to death, including modes of family composition. Whether the nuclear family migrates as a unit or whether its members are dispersed geographically because of migration, these population movements are a basis for questioning family ties, from the education of the young by their elders who are their legal guardians until marriage, to the rituals involved with the end of life for those who decease far from the familial networks of their place of origin. The traditional model of the maried couple living under the same roof and bringing up their biological children until the end of their adolescence is ceding to diverse social arrangements invented by individuals who, over the course of their lives, divide their time between different places of residence. Whether these new models exist harmoniously within the social system that produces them, or whether they are viewed as deviant, they interrogate the fundamental paradigms of sociology and anthropology of families, death, and intergenerational solidarity.

One part of this research will examine the mobilities of children of both genders which have developed during the last few decades in several regions of West Africa. If masculine migrations have long been considered a component of family strategies for diversifying income streams, it appears that this interpretation is insufficient for understanding youth migration, in particular that of adolescent girls, which competes with an alternative family strategy of arranging marriages for young daughters. The rise of feminine migratory practices has occurred in a context of low rates of school enrolment among girls, and these mobilities could be partly comprehended as a kind of training that compensates for the absence of formal education. The recent development (since the 1990s) of the school enrolment of boys as well as girls leads us to rethink the relationship between migration and schooling. We would like to pursue the investigations that have already begun on, on the one hand, the articulation of these youth mobilities with family logics ; and, on the other hand, on the consequences of youth migration on intergenerational and gender relations. These aspects will be examined through the processes of empowerment and of individualization brought about and reinforced by migration, resulting in the progressive disengagement of elders in the management of matrimonial issues and by the weakening of authority over the young.

Another part of our work in this program aims to compare the mobility of individuals and the stages of the life cycle. On the one hand, we will examine the modifications of gender and marital relations in the context of migration by exploring evolutions in forms of family life, matrimonial and procreational behaviors, and intergenerational relationships. Particular attention will be given to the status of women in migrant couples, considering that they are equal subjects in the migratory activity even when they are not the ones who leave. On the other hand, we will analyze the social, political and economic management of death during migration : what solidarities are mobilized to transfer the remains of the deceased from one country to the other ? What role do the governments of sending and receiving countries play in the process ? Indeed, human remains constitute an « object » that allows for the study of flows, networks and solidarities, or even territories – these remains of the deceased being constructed by the living. In the framework of an anthropology of mobility, this line of study will involve the position of deceased migrants in transnational space through practices related to death, networks of individuals mobilized to transfer the bodies of the deceased, governmental institutions and commercial businesses.

These questions will be addressed through the following studies :

- Infant and juvenile migrations in Mali (M. Lesclingand)
- Marriage and migrations in the Maghreb (Z. Ouadah-Bedidi, S. Potot)
- Political, economic, and ritual management of death between the United States and Mexico (F. Lestage)

Doctoral theses in progress : Au pairs in Paris, New York and Medellín (L. Cuartas) ; Bangladeshi in Paris (D. Park) ; repatriation of bodies to the Democratic Republic of Congo (S. Musinde Sangwa) ; Chinese families in Paris (Du Juan)