EVENT: ANTHROPOLOGY / SOCIOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES, SEMESTER 1, 2017
|ANTHROPOLOGY / SOCIOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES, SEMESTER 1, 2017 : Relational losses in South African migrant families: Can communication technologies help fill the void?
Emigration from one’s country of birth is an inherently life-changing event which requires uprooting from all that is familiar. It is a complex and far-reaching phenomenon affecting all members of a specific social network – both those who leave and those who stay behind.
The bulk of migration research has focused on the experiences of the migrant person and/or family; whilst, by comparison, little attention has been given to the experiences of those left behind. A transnational perspective on migrant families – which acknowledges the systemic and interconnected nature of family life in a global world – allows us to give equal recognition to the experiences of those who leave their country of origin and, importantly, those who stay behind.
South Africa offers a unique context within which to examine these migratory phenomena. Historically, it is a country characterized by various migratory practices – both internal and external. Moreover, it has witnessed considerable emigration, most often in response to specific political events both during the Apartheid years and since the inception of democracy in 1994.
In this paper I will briefly discuss the historical context of South African emigration before focusing on some of the findings which have emerged from two qualitative research projects examining various psychological aspects of South African emigrant families. The focus of the discussion will be primarily on the experiences of those left behind, especially the elderly. My findings suggest that this group experiences significant relational losses as a result of the disruption in their social networks following the departure of their loved ones. Finally, I will look at how the most recent communication technologies can play an important role in maintaining transnational relationships, but also highlight the challenges that people may experience in maintaining a sense of intimacy and connection through these means.
Prof Maria C. Marchetti-Mercer, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Social Sciences Building Room 2204
Fri, 12 May 2017 14:30
Fri, 12 May 2017 15:30
Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Fri, 05 May 2017 09:47
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