Immigrant mothers – racialized children. Pathways, conflicts and visions.

What are the connections between migration and racism? In what way can mothers transmit memories, values, symbolic and material resources to their children in order to deal with racism and discrimination? The overall objective of this project is to explore women’s experiences of motherhood considering racializing practices within the labor market, in their neighborhoods and within their families. The project seeks to shed light on the intergenerational transference of values, culture and material resources between mothers and their children. The research questions guiding this project involve three crucial areas: a) what notions of racism influence women’s experiences as mothers and how these notions are influenced by political background, cultural belonging and religious affiliation b) what strategies iterate in the women’s narratives about motherhood and how internalized are these strategies in their families, kin and neighborhood? c) how the past, present and future articulate in the stories told by mothers to children and what conceptions of racism convey in their narratives?

A point of departure for this project consider motherhood as a central piece for analyzing how migration backgrounds link to racialized hierarchies in Sweden. In the post-war period, many women migrated to Sweden either alone or with their families, but their stories are partially documented. These women usually are described as passive or bound to their traditions, and their contributions regarding work and community building may go unnoticed. By examining the strategies that these women create in diverse contexts, this project would provide in-depth notions about the mothers’ strategies to deal with and take actions against everyday racism.

The project builds on both Feminist Post-Colonial Theory and an Intersectional Perspective. Simultaneously, the study reflects on previous research to problematize how gender, class and race/racism create different forms of exerting power and various forms to experience and handle everyday racism and discrimination. The period considered in the research goes from the 1970s until now, which in turn divides into four periods depending on diverse contexts in which migration inscribes. The first one, the era of solidarity, between 1970 and 1989. The second one refers to the neoliberal turn and the adjustment to the European Union 1990-2000. Subsequently, the period of borders restrictions and the war against terrorism after 2001. The last and four period, from 2008 and onwards, which characterizes by the liberalization of the labor migration and the erosion of the right to asylum.

The project aims to develop an intersectional methodology that focuses on the diversity of experiences of motherhood and racism. The empirical material comprises, on the one hand, in-depth interviews with a strategic sample of women that have migrated to Sweden during the four time-span mentioned before. On the other hand, focus groups with grown-up sons and daughters to immigrant parents arrived from the 1970s and forward complete also the firsthand data of this research. Also, other types of information such as statistical data, Official Reports of the Swedish Government and findings from previous studies will be analyzed to highlight the general context where the women’s strategies take form and convey to the next generation.