The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality

A Talk with Cati Coe

Please join the Anthropology Department on March 30, 2016 from 1:15-1:30pm in the Conference of the Mortara Center for International Studies for a lecture by Professor Cati Coe on her book, "The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants and Global Inequality."

Today’s unprecedented migration of people around the globe causes a common phenomenon: scattered families, in which parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings and their children, live apart from one another, maintaining their relationships from afar.  Based on ethnographic research with Ghanaian parents in the United States, and the children of international migrants and their caregivers in Ghana, this book argues that while global capitalism and states have generated conditions which promote the separation of families, migrants and their kin respond to these conditions differently, because they creatively enact their repertoire of family life in the situations they encounter.  Repertoires are composed of habitual family practices and relationships, the idioms for representing those practices and relationships, and the obligations and expectations for the distribution of resources within families.  Contemporary global capitalism is therefore generating changes in family life and emotional regimes, not in a unitary or even way, but as migrants creatively use their repertoire as they encounter the possibilities and constraints generated by neoliberalizing but sovereign states increasingly dependent on a mobile and fickle capital.

Professor Coe is a Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, Camden and the author of The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality and The Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools: Nationalism, Youth, and the Transformation of Knowledge. She has been a co-editor of The Anthropology of Sibling Relations and Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective. She is now working on two projects, one on changes in aging care in Ghana and another on African paid caregivers in the United States.