Children and 'African values': Zimbabwean professionals in Britain reconfiguring family life

McGregor, JoAnn (2008) Children and 'African values': Zimbabwean professionals in Britain reconfiguring family life. Environment and Planning A, 40 (3). pp. 596-614. ISSN 0308-518X

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This paper examines the ways in which Zimbabwean professionals have reconfigured family life in a transnational context. It argues that issues surrounding family and children have received too little attention in the literature on contemporary African diasporas, despite the central importance of family concerns not only in decisions about mobility, work, and remittances, but also in debates about moral value. The paper focuses on children, both as objects of responsibility around which support networks of different sorts are organized, and as moral markers in diasporic debates about identity and belonging. It examines the ways in which family networks have influenced nurses' and teachers' negotiation of work, before investigating issues at stake in decisions to bring children to the UK and the ways that both of these have shaped ongoing transnational connections and embeddedness in the UK context. Despite the appeal of educational opportunities for children in Britain, problems in securing dependents' entry and the cost and difficulty of supporting and caring for children in Britain can lead parents to keep them in Zimbabwe. In addition, encounters with norms of behaviour in schools, childrights legislation, controls on parental discipline and teenage youth culture (black and white) are unappealing and can encourage a sense of difference among Zimbabwean parents. This is often expressed in terms of 'African' values of respect for parents, authority and extended family, perhaps more than in terms of racial, national, regional or ethnic identities. The paper places such moral debates provoked by everyday interactions in Britain in the context of the very real strains on family relationships created by the crisis in Zimbabwe, the multiple dimensions of exclusion of migrants in the UK, and further problems created by the feminization of employment, different gender norms, and a high rate of divorce.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Nadya Herrera Catalan
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2015 15:18
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2015 15:18
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