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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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Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

Chapter:
(p.128) 5 Civic Engagement
Source:
Mothers on the Move
Author(s):

Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226389912.003.0005

This chapter examines Cameroonian participation in migrant place-based associations, where mothers develop extra-familial ties within the Berlin diasporic community. Hometown associations help mothers publically perform the connections that undergird belonging. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is more relevant for migrants than for those who stay in their familiar “village” or home. Parents try to recreate the social integration of home by participating in associational life. Momentary encounters facilitated by the association help community members build enduring multiplex relationships and reciprocal exchange. But parallel formal and informal interaction streams at association meetings reveal an ironic underbelly of transnational place-based identification; fear of transnational gossip circuits and their simultaneous effect on connections to kin back home as well as on ties among other migrants in Berlin makes association events venues of cautious conviviality, and even mistrust. In four scenes (a routine meeting, a year-end celebration, the children’s corner, and a wake), this chapter reveals the positive and negative, stop-and-start nature of affective circuits in associational life. Through their hometown associations, mothers receive formal benefits and strengthen informal networks at important reproductive moments, and give their children a sense of belonging through participation in community life.

Keywords:   Berlin, civic engagement, community, conviviality, diaspora, extrafamilial networks, hometown associations, mothers, performative belonging, transnationalism, civil society

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