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Reproducing Europe: Migrant Parenting and Questions of Citizenship

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MigrantParents (Reproducing Europe: Migrant Parenting and Questions of Citizenship)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-05-31

Reproducing Europe is an anthropological study of citizenship in a Europe where the presence of migrants is often perceived as a burden or threat. This project asks how good citizenship and the future of European societies is negotiated in this context. In order to answer this question, we examine encounters between Egyptian migrant parents and 'the welfare state' in Amsterdam, Paris and Milan. The Reproducing Europe research team consists of six researchers, who work in these three cities. In each city, one PhD researcher works to cover the perspectives of Egyptian migrant parents, while a more senior researcher charts the perspectives of parenting support professionals. By bringing these perspectives together, Reproducing Europe shows how everyday citizenship is negotiated in Europe today.

The Reproducing Europe team zooms on on the domain of parenthood and child rearing by studying ‘parenting encounters’. Three researchers focus on the experiences of Egyptian migrant parents in Paris, Milan and Amsterdam. Which ideas do they encounter about child rearing and parenthood and how do they deal with these expectations? What do they themselves expect from the state and other local institutions? In turn, three more senior researchers examine how professionals in the field of parenting deal with their socio-culturally diverse clientele. How do they envision their clientele and its needs and problems, and how do they deal with what they perceive as the main challenges in their work? By combining these perspectives, we learn how Europe’s diverse societies takes shape and we gain a better understanding of the role of social professionals and migrant parents in that process. Ultimately, Reproducing Europe hopes to shed light on the complex genesis of a new, diverse Europe.
After a year of collaborative development of the overall project, and the individual subprojects, all team members have conducted approximately one year of field research in their sites on their part of the comparative question. They have presented several papers on their findings in various conferences, which will form the basis for articles and chapters of PhD-theses. Besides fieldwork and a focus on papers and publications, the team has collaborated on a public book 'Reproducing Europe: Migrant Parents, Professionals and the Welfare State', which conveys some of the main comparative findings in an accessible and attractive format for the research participants and a wider audience. This publication will be available in 5 languages in Autumn 2018, in open access, from the project website, and paper copies will be distributed among research participants during dissemination events in the three research sites (Milan, Paris and Amsterdam).
We have developed a collaborative way to do ethnographic comparison, which starts from the ethnographic data and insights, rather than an externally imposed framework. This type of comparison hinges on deep collaborative engagement with each others work. This will result in numerous co-authored publications that result in ethnographically informed analysis that can, however, use the specificities of each case to sharpen both the case analysis and the conceptual and theoretical conclusions. A prima example is the collaborative analysis of the Intimate State (first presented at EASA 2018) based on the work of De Koning, Marchesi and Vollebergh.

Our ethnographic data and the comparative findings that result from that data are particularly relevant in the following fields: migration studies, studies of the welfare state and studies of social work, and studies of contemporary Europe. These are interdisciplary fields in which our research stands to make an important intervention both on account of its ethnographic methods and data, and the comparative approach, the combination of which is unique. In the field of migration studies, the project uniquely contributes insights into expectations, hopes and negotiations by migrant parents vis-a-vis European welfare states. Our work on the welfare state also enters into dialogue with sociological and political science understandings of the welfare state reform in times of austerity. Our ethnographic work sheds light on the way professionals and their organizations position themselves in the combination of new languages of participation, culturalized understandings of citizenship and cutbacks to the welfare states, and how they deal with an increasingly diverse public. It also demonstrates the importance of intimate, proximate forms on governance in today's Europe, and the tentative state this produces. Our work is, moreover, also in dialogue with more practice oriented studies of social work and parenting support. Our contribution in this field is highlighting the complex affective labor and investments on the part of social professionals and their entangled position in the social they wish to govern.