Reconfiguring Care | (Ukraine) Ilona Grabmaier

Stayed at home. Reconfiguring care of/for men, children and senior citizens in rural Ukraine

Since the early 2000s, many villages in Ukraine experience increased outmigration, especially of women. Both the conditions of female labour migrants in receiving countries and their efforts to maintain transnational care relations with relatives are relatively well studied ethnographically, but we still know very little about how the absence of women affects the social, economic and political circumstances for those who stay at home. I am thus particularly interested in the situation of men, children and senior citizens, their integration into various networks of mutual support and according processes of inclusion in and exclusion from families, the village community and the state. Previous research on the effects of female labour migration has primarily focused on the central role attributed to women as wives, daughters and mothers in providing emotional and material care to their children, husbands and parents. Analytically, I consider this focus on the perspectives of women as problematic since the naturalisation of motherhood and related care expectations and responsibilities overshadows other actors who might be equally important in the provision of care. Thus, based on current anthropological approaches at the intersection of care, kinship, gender and the state, my research project emphasizes reconfigurations of care practices, which are taken as a starting point for the production, maintenance or dissolution of different forms of relatedness.

Ilona Grabmaier

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