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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Starting Cameroonian Families in Berlin

Starting Cameroonian Families in Berlin

(p.57) 3 Starting Cameroonian Families in Berlin
Mothers on the Move

Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores family foundation—finding partners, childbearing, and infant care—in relation to Cameroonian migrant women’s striving to belong in Berlin. Weddings and childbirth promote intense exchanges along affective circuits. Four women’s love stories reveal the complexities of love, marriage, and belonging.Proxy weddings and their accompanying videos emerge as adaptations to situations of mobility and immobility between the African continent and Fortress Europe. Pregnancy and childbearing strengthen the obligations between husband, wife, and wider circuits of family belonging. Cameroonian mothers naturalize their child wish as part of being a woman, being an African, or being Bamiléké, but adapt their fertility goals to the challenges of immigrant life in Germany. Because extended family members are not physically present to pressure them, husbands and wives make their family-planning decisions as couples. But the absence of extended family members’ local knowledge and availability to provide escort and immediate support leaves mothers feeling “all alone” when finding prenatal and obstetric care. Building upon the medical anthropology of childbirth and infant care, the chapter demonstrates that women’s laments about absent post-partum caregivers express concerns about creating and maintaining kinship. The social reproduction involved in family making entails adaptation, compromise, and cultural innovation.

Keywords:   childbearing, cultural innovation, family foundation, fertility goals, Fortress Europe, infant care, kinship and marriage, medical anthropology, pregnancy, proxy weddings

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