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Karen Ni. Divya Asuri. SOCI 220 Final Paper

Karen Ni. Divya Asuri. SOCI 220 Final Paper - Ni/Asuri 1...

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Ni/Asuri 1 Karen Ni and Divya Asuri Sociology 220 December 11, 2011 Final Paper #1: Transnational Mothering The rise of alternative familial arrangements in our contemporary global society has resulted in changing forms of motherhood. Due to the low-paying professional positions for women in developing countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, and El Salvador, some women choose to migrate to developed countries such as the United States and Singapore, where they can earn higher wages as domestic workers. Despite the distance, gender roles persist and these women are still obligated to perform motherly duties. This arrangement, known as transnational motherhood, redefines traditional notions of mothering, as these women must make up for their inability to provide physical comfort and express their love through other means. For instance, mothers would regularly call, text, and send gifts to their children. Transnational mothers choose to leave their home country because they can earn more money in countries like the U.S. to “provide their children with better nutrition, clothing, and schooling” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 562). These women are willing to make the sacrifice despite the personal loss and suffering caused to themselves and their children. Since transnational mothers are usually absent for the majority of child rearing, they rely on resources such as technology to produce intimacy and strengthen intergenerational ties. Through the article “I’m Here But I’m There,” Hondagneu-Sotelo shows how “Latina immigrant domestic workers transform the meanings of motherhood to accommodate these spatial and temporal separations” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 548). These mothers must find nontraditional methods
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Ni/Asuri 2 to express love for their children and compensate for their physical absence. According to Hondagneu-Sotelo, transnational mothering encompasses “forsaking deeply felt beliefs that biological mothers should raise their own children, and replacing that belief with new definitions of motherhood” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 557). This new definition modifies the idea that mothering should involve both financially supporting one’s children and spending quality time with them. Since they cannot physically comfort or nurture their children, transnational mothers emphasize “emotional presence and communication” while “providing direction and guidance” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 564). Mothers nurture their children across national boundaries through regular communication, such as calling at a certain time of the week, so these children know to be home during this time and expect a call. These mothers also would send money, gifts, letters, and photographs, demonstrating that “physical absence did not signify emotional absence” (Hondagneu-Sotelo 558). Some mothers are so involved that they even text their children to wake up every day and determine what they eat for every meal. In “Long Distance Intimacy,” Parreñas explains how transnational mothers also “maintain intimate relations across borders by
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Karen Ni. Divya Asuri. SOCI 220 Final Paper - Ni/Asuri 1...

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