Migrant Families in Ireland: Understanding the Culture Landscapes of Transnational Family Life
Watters, John J. (2011) Migrant Families in Ireland: Understanding the Culture Landscapes of Transnational Family Life. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Being ‗migrant‘ in Ireland is often presented in the popular media and academic studies as being somewhat problematic. While this study acknowledges some of the difficulties facing Ireland‘s migrant population, I attend in particular to some of the more everyday and ordinary things done as part of living here, some of which express a ‗migrant‘ identity, and some which do not. Through the lenses of ‗family‘ and ‗home‘, I explore the cultural geographies of migrant relationships by engaging with Lithuanian, Indian, and United States research participants in Ireland. The key question is: How does the migration process reconstitute how people who move understand and experience family and home? Theoretically, I disrupt ‗The Family‘ as a coherent ontological existence. In doing so, I blend a poststructuralist ontology and epistemology of kin and non-kin relationships with a phenomenological way of knowing how relationships are performed in place. Methodologically, I develop an approach which fuses participatory photography with family album exploration as a means of interrogating what family means to each participant, and where feels most like home. The reflective nature of these questions facilitates an abstract interrogation of the everyday lived experiences of family and home, while I draw from cultural and political geographies of migration and transnational studies, in particular, in order to understand the particularity of the migrant case. The stories gathered are understood as a series of family landscapes – the expression of the social and spatial practices that produce families in particular ways, at particular times, and in particular places. The thesis reads, therefore, as a conceptual development of a landscape imaginary of families. The ‗architecture‘ of that conceptual framework is presented through a set of ‗scapes‘ in a way that offers the possibility of theoretical abstraction from this particular research for application to other family contexts too.
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