08 Mar 2011

Left Behind – Brussels Conference: Giovanni Giulio Valtolina

Biographical note:

Ph.D., is professor of Developmental Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan. He is also head of the Child and Family Department at ISMU (Initiatives and Studies on Multi- ethnicity) foundation in Milan. He published several articles and books on migrant family and second generation issues: “Multiple Belongings: the migration experience of the second generation”; “The ‘open school’: Italian and migrant parents in kindergarden”; “Migrant families and social inclusion: the services and the city”.

Abstract of presentation:

‘The challenge of being a transnational family’

Defining transnationalism as a process through which migrants built “social spots of significance” that link the homeland and the host society, the presentation will highlight the importance of the mobility across the national border and the impact of the migration on the homeland. After presenting unlike levels of transnationalism – identitarian, relational and behavioural – attention will be drawn to the consequence into the everyday life.

Coming to the transnational families, it will be emphasized the implications that this family choice entails, mainly underlining the central role of the women/mother in this peculiar form of migration, where they try to give their children a better life, going away, far from them.

Studies on very different migrant communities around the world showed that mothers overcome the pain of the separation through three different strategies: the replacement of the caregiving with gifts; the inhibition of the emotional stress, emphasising their hard life in the host country and denying the emotional costs of the separation from their children; the rationalization of the distance, stating that economical advantages are greater than the emotional burden and that the geographical distance can be managed – and overcome – through a regular and frequent communication.

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