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Mothers on the MoveReproducing Belonging Between Africa and Europe$
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Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226389745

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226389912.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Mothers on the Move

Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces core concepts, methods, and themes regarding mobility, belonging, and motherhood. Reproductive insecurity is both a motivation for and a result of migration. Mothers manage this insecurity by forging and maintaining affective circuits of exchange among overlapping social networks. Kin back home, migrant associations, as well as enforcers of German laws and bureaucratic procedures expose Cameroonian migrant mothers to new expectations about belonging-through children. Mothers balance these expectations by sharing and weighing advice through personal stories. They develop a migrant legal consciousness by circulating narratives of encounters with the law along the same affective circuits that anchor their belonging. Belonging—a complex mix of recognition by, and attachment to, a particular place or group—is constituted by social and emotional connections (citizenship, ethnicity, family) that can be felt, performed, or imposed. This chapter imagines the social networks that create belonging for migrant mothers through the metaphor of electrical circuitry; mothers switch connections on and off to control the information, goods, money, and emotions flow between them and social outlets located both nationally and transnationally. Mothers capitalize on the attention their children elicit from various actors, enabling them to navigate the many challenges of belonging in the diaspora.

Keywords:   affective circuits, belonging, Cameroon, Germany, legal consciousness, migrant associations, migration, mothers, narrative, reproductive insecurity

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