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The Family in Question

The Family in Question: Immigrant and Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural Europe

edited by Ralph Grillo
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 314
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  • Book Info
    The Family in Question
    Book Description:

    The family lives of immigrants and ethnic minority populations have become central to arguments about the right and wrong ways of living in multicultural societies. While the characteristic cultural practices of such families have long been scrutinized by the media and policy makers, these groups themselves are beginning to reflect on how to manage their family relationships. Exploring case studies from Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Australia, The Family in Question explores how those in public policy often dangerously reflect the popular imagination, rather than recognizing the complex changes taking place within the global immigrant community. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0153-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 9-14)
    Ralph Grillo
  5. 1 The Family in Dispute: Insiders and Outsiders
    (pp. 15-36)
    Ralph Grillo

    With the movement to the European Union of increasing numbers of migrants and refugees originating from outside Europe, ‘migrant families (and their composition, their way of life) have become a true obsession for migration policies and public opinion’ (Balibar 2004: 123). Traditional migration models (first came men, then families) are rightly criticised for omitting economically active, independent females, and representing women as ‘passive followers’ (Kofman 1999: 273). Yet although many migrants (women and men) have indeed been ‘single’, coming from Africa or Latin America, and more recently Eastern Europe, and eventually returning to countries of origin, many others, unintentionally or...

  6. 2 Inside and Outside: Contrasting Perspectives on the Dynamics of Kinship and Marriage in Contemporary South Asian Transnational Networks
    (pp. 37-70)
    Roger Ballard

    In much of the Euro-American world, the possibility that family life might be reaching a point of collapse has emerged as a regular focus of an increasingly anxious public debate. It is easy to see why. Besides steadily eroding the range and intensity of networks of extra-familial kinship reciprocity so that such relationships are but a shadow of their former selves, the ever-more active pursuit of personal freedom has now begun to have a similar impact on the integrity of the nuclear family itself. The results are plain to see. In the face of the apparently inexorable rise in the...

  7. 3 ‘For Women and Children!’ The Family and Immigration Politics in Scandinavia
    (pp. 71-88)
    Anniken Hagelund

    The immigrant family has become a key site of conflict in Scandinavian debates about integration, multiculturalism and ethnic relations. Much-publicised instances of forced marriages, genital mutilation and honour killings have created moral panics where patriarchal immigrant cultures and family structures appear as the major culprits. One popular response is to make claims for more demands on immigrants to acculturate, with less tolerance of cultural diversity. Phenomena such as forced marriage, genital mutilation and, obviously, honour killings are all illegal, and few, if any, have defended them publicly. But also technically legal practices associated with immigrants’ familial relations are attracting public...

  8. 4 Defining ‘Family’ and Bringing It Together: The Ins and Outs of Family Reunification in Portugal
    (pp. 89-112)
    Maria Lucinda Fonseca and Meghann Ormond

    The family is widely accepted as a basic unit of cultural, social and economic production and reproduction which plays a fundamental role in the successful integration of its members, and functions as a support network for them. Many immigrants arriving in Portugal are at first deprived of this support structure, having left their families behind in their country of origin. While some will return to their families and countries of origin after temporarily living abroad, others will reunite with their families in Portugal and still others will start new ones.

    As a consequence of the legal restrictions imposed by EU...

  9. 5 Debating Cultural Difference: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam and Women
    (pp. 113-134)
    Erik Snel and Femke Stock

    After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11, there was an increasing tendency to interpret our world in terms of a ‘clash of cultures’ or civilisations, more specifically between the ‘West’ and the world of Islam (Snel 2003). The notion of a ‘clash of civilisations’ (Huntington 1996) was, in its time, very innovative. Huntington understood that the world after the fall of socialism was not essentially peaceful, as observers of international politics thought, but stressed that the main contemporary political tensions and conflicts were of an ideological nature, related to cultural or religious identities. This was...

  10. 6 Family Dynamics, Uses of Religion and Inter-Ethnic Relations within the Portuguese Cultural Ecology
    (pp. 135-164)
    Susana Bastos and José Bastos

    In post-colonial Europe, immigration can be represented as a partially uncontrolled historical process that occurs in a historically organised world (Wallerstein 1973), with geo-strategic, political, economic, technological, and identity hierarchies, competitions and vulnerabilities. This process of reversed colonisation (Ballard 2003), based upon, and reinforcing, the collapse of empires, has brought once more to the fore a kind of group identity competition that was supposedly surpassed. This competition develops at a moral level, through the comparison of several types of socio-historical dynamics (gender and intergenerational relations, values about desired or undesirable performances and relational patterns, different uses of religions, etc.), as...

  11. 7 The Dream of Family: Muslim Migrants in Austria
    (pp. 165-186)
    Anna Stepien

    ‘Luxury is family and time’, said recently Fiona Swarovski, a prominent Austrian and heiress of the Swarovski Crystal empire. The dream of a family – by which I mean the longing for community, safety, acceptance and support realised through the family – can take different forms, but is common to many people, independent of their culture, tradition, religion or nationality. The family is valued, is in fashion, maybe even more than ever before, seen as a constant part in an inconstant world, imagined as a secure haven in an insecure, changing and globalised environment.

    This chapter investigates Muslim migrant families...

  12. 8 Who Cares? ‘External’, ‘Internal’ and ‘Mediator’ Debates about South Asian Elders’ Needs
    (pp. 187-204)
    Kanwal Mand

    This chapter explores how ‘external’ debates, notably in the public sphere which, as Grillosupranotes, often reflect migrants’ imagined cultural practices, interact with ‘internal’ debates that occur within migrant families. Several authors draw attention to the impact of external debates in the form of policies on South Asian families in Britain in the arena of care and service provision (Boneham 1989; Forbat 2004; Katbamna et al. 2004). South Asian families are often positioned in public discourses as ‘looking after their own’, and this, it is argued, contributes to the low take-up of services by Asian elders and the misrecognition...

  13. 9 Italian Families in Switzerland: Sites of Belonging or ‘Golden Cages’? Perceptions and Discourses inside and outside the Migrant Family
    (pp. 205-224)
    Susanne Wessendorf

    Luca, whose views are cited above, is a second-generation Italian born in the German part of Switzerland in 1972. His parents had migrated from Sicily in the early 1960s. He grew up in an extended network of kin and was raised by his parents and his grandmother, together with his cousins. This large network of relatives provided him with social and emotional stability during his childhood and adolescence, and spending time with his cousins and his uncle of the same age group strengthened his association and identification with other Italians. His relatives were not only family, but also peers with...

  14. 10 Dealing with ‘That Thing’: Female Circumcision and Sierra Leonean Refugee Girls in the UK
    (pp. 225-244)
    Radha Rajkotia

    Criminalisation of female circumcision combined with heightened media attention in the West has meant that it has come to be seen as a universal wrong within the public sphere (Walley 2002). Specific laws prohibiting the practice exist in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, while general criminal and/or child protection laws have been applied to female circumcision in Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand (Rahman & Toubia 2000). All of these countries have large immigrant communities and have been compelled to address female circumcision as it is seen as a threat not only...

  15. 11 Socio-Cultural Dynamics in Intermarriage in Spain: Beyond Simplistic Notions of Hybridity
    (pp. 245-268)
    Dan Rodríguez-García

    One of the less researched but fundamental aspects of the settlement and accommodation of immigrants in receiving countries is the relationship between migration and life course, particularly with respect to family and household dynamics in migration and marriage and family formation in the host country. This relationship includes processes of endogamy and exogamy (i.e. marrying within/outside one’s own group), an aspect crucial to understanding processes of interethnic relations and social incorporation in plural societies.

    Spain is the country in the European Union that has undergone the greatest increase in international immigration in the last few years, in 2006 receiving nearly...

  16. 12 Debating Culture across Distance: Transnational Families and the Obligation to Care
    (pp. 269-292)
    Loretta Baldassar

    This chapter explores some of the transnational dimensions of debates within and about families, in particular the way kin who are separated by distance and national borders construct and negotiate cultural notions of obligation about aged care.² I argue that debates about migration and caregiving concerning transnational families, both internal (at the micro level of everyday practice) and external (at the generally more meso and macro levels of policy and service provision), must be understood not as an attribute of individuals or families alone, but as a function of relationships between agents and social institutions within and across both home...

  17. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 293-298)
  18. Index
    (pp. 299-312)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-320)