Flexible Families
123 pages
English

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123 pages
English

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Description

Flexible Families examines the struggles among Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica (and their families back in Nicaragua) to maintain a sense of family across borders. The book is based on more than twenty-four months of ethnographic fieldwork in Costa Rica and Nicaragua (between 2009 and 2012) and more than ten years of engagement with Nicaraguan migrant communities. Author Caitlin Fouratt finds that migration and family intersect as sites for triaging inequality, economic crisis, and a lack of state-provided social services.

The book situates transnational families in an analysis of the history of unstable family life in Nicaragua due to decades of war and economic crisis, rather than in the migration process itself, which is often blamed for family breakdown in public discourse. Fouratt argues that the kinds of family configurations often seen as problematic consequences of migration—specifically single mothers, absent fathers, and grandmother caregivers—represent flexible family configurations that have enabled Nicaraguan families to survive the chronic crises of the past decades. By examining the work that goes into forging and sustaining transnational kinship, the book argues for a rethinking of national belonging and discourses of solidarity.

In parallel, the book critically examines conditions in Costa Rica, especially the ways the instabilities and inequalities that have haunted the rest of the region have begun to take shape there, resulting in perceptions of increased crime rates and a declining quality of life. By linking this crisis of Costa Rican exceptionalism to recent immigration reform, the book also builds on scholarship about the production and experiences of immigrant exclusion. Flexible Families offers insight into the impacts of increasingly restrictive immigration policies in the everyday lives of transnational families within the developing world.
Introduction: "The Family Is a Little Society"
1. State, Family, and Solidarity in the Nicaraguan Nation
2. Locked Up and Waiting
3. Absent Fathers and Single Mothers
4. Reconfiguring Relationships across Borders
5. Mamitas: Grandmother Caregivers and Extended Family Households
6. "I eat all my money here": Remittances in Transnational Family Life
7. Returns and Reunions

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Publié par
Date de parution 15 avril 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826504388
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1750€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Flexible Families
Flexible Families
Nicaraguan Transnational Families in Costa Rica
CAITLIN E. FOURATT
Vanderbilt University Press
Nashville, Tennessee
Copyright 2022 Vanderbilt University Press
All rights reserved
First printing 2022
Parts of Chapter Two appeared in Caitlin E. Fouratt, “Temporary Measures: The Production of Illegality in Costa Rican Immigration Law,” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 39, no. 1 (2016): 144–60.
Map shape files source: Humanitarian Data Exchange ( data.humdata.org ), contributed by UNFIS and UNROLAC under (CC BY-IGO). https://data.humdata.org/dataset/costa-rica-subnational-administrative-boundaries and https://data.humdata.org/dataset/nicaragua-administrative-level-0 .
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Fouratt, Caitlin E., 1982– author.
Title: Flexible families : Nicaraguan transnational families in Costa Rica / Caitlin E. Fouratt.
Description: Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, [2022] | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2021047923 (print) | LCCN 2021047924 (ebook) | ISBN 9780826504364 (Paperback) | ISBN 9780826504371 (Hardcover) | ISBN 9780826504388 (ePub) | ISBN 9780826504395 (PDF)
Subjects: LCSH: Immigrant families—Nicaragua. | Nicaragua—Emigration and immigration—Social aspects. | Nicaragua—Emigration and immigration—Economic aspects. | Women immigrants—Family relationships—Nicaragua. | Grandmothers—Family relationships—Nicaragua. | Children of immigrants—Family relationships—Nicaragua. | Fatherless families—Nicaragua. | Grandparents as parents—Nicaragua. | Intergenerational relations—Nicaragua. | Transnationalism—Social aspects—Nicaragua.
Classification: LCC JV7426 .F68 2022 (print) | LCC JV7426 (ebook) | DDC 305.8959/72077285—dc23/eng/20220111
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021047923
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2021047924
To Magda and Arlo. To family, near and far .
Map of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Sites added. BaseMap Source Credits: Esri, HERE, Garmin, © OpenStreetMap contributors, and the GIS user community.
CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION. “The Family Is a Little Society”
1. State, Family, and Solidarity in the Nicaraguan Nation
2. Locked Up and Waiting
3. Single Mothers and Absent Fathers
4. Reconfiguring Relationships across Borders
5. Mamitas: Grandmother Caregivers and Extended Family Households
6. “I Eat All My Money Here”: Remittances in Transnational Family Life
7. Returns and Reunions
REFERENCES
INDEX
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This book would not have been possible without the contributions of so many who cannot be named here for reasons of confidentiality, especially the families in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua who allowed us into their homes and shared meals, parenting advice, and more. To the women who continue to hold and support me in community both in Central America and in California through fieldwork, academic life, parenting, and the pandemic, I owe you immense gratitude.
The research for this book was generously supported by the Department of Anthropology and Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies at University of California, Irvine, a Wenner-Gren fellowship, and an IIE Graduate Fellowship for International Study. Funding from California State University, Long Beach and a Wenner-Gren Engaged Research Grant allowed me to return to the field, follow up with the families with whom I worked, and share my research with them as well as with colleagues and students in Costa Rica. The open seminar Koen Voorend and I hosted at the University of Costa Rica in 2015 provided me with feedback and insight from a number of Costa Rican students, scholars, and community organizers who are cited or interviewed in this book.
My love for research and interest in migration in Costa Rica can be traced to a student Fulbright grant. For that, I owe the continuous support of Jane Morris and the Villanova University Honors Program and Center for Peace and Justice Education, especially Carol Anthony and Sue Toton. My understanding of the politics and pragmatics of the development and migration landscape in Costa Rica is largely thanks to my time working at the International Center for Development Studies and its predecessor, El Centro Internacional del Desarrollo Humano, and the researchers and friends I met there, especially Mimi Prado, Marta Trejos, Jorge Nowalski, Bernardita Rodriguez, Laura Sariego, Aitor Llodio, and others. The project began to take shape while at Cambridge University with the support of the faculty, staff, and students of the Centre of Latin American Studies, especially Sian Lazar and David Lehmann.
I owe enormous debts to the mentors, friends, and colleagues who have helped me think through this project, from inception to writing. At UC Irvine, the mentorship and unconditional support of Leo Chavez and Susan Coutin in my professional and personal life allowed me to grow as a scholar and learn to balance family and academic work as well as any of us are able. Feedback from the Socio-Legal Studies Workshops at the UCI Center in Law, Society and Culture was crucial to my thinking about immigration policy and illegality. Mentorship and support from the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies was also critical in the early stages of research.
My writing has benefitted from participation in several writing communities. I appreciate those who have offered their insight especially Taylor Nelms, Eva Yonas, Lydia Dixon, Ather Zia, Janny Li, Stevie Rea, Sean Mallin, and other colleagues from UCI Anthropology. I am thankful for the generous scholarship and engagement of Leisy Abrego, Lynnette Arnold, Deanna Barenboim, Debbie Boehm, Carmen Caamaño, Katie Dingeman, Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, Laura Paniagua, Megan Rivers-Moore, Jelena Radovic-Fanta, Leila Rodriguez, Carlos Sandoval, Koen Voorend, Joe Wilt-berger, Nanneke Winters, and Kristin Yarris, among others. Tanya Golash-Boza’s virtual writing retreat came at a crucial moment in the writing process. My colleagues at CSULB have provided invaluable writing support and encouragement, and I owe a special thanks to Yousef Baker, Laura Ceia, Norma Chinchilla, Christine El-Ouardani, Babs Grossman-Thompson, Lauren Heidbrink, Lily House-Peters, Jayne Howell, Richard Marcus, Jolene McCall, Karen Quintiliani, Deborah Thien, Kimberly Walters, and Kris Zentgraf. I also want to thank my editor, Zack Gresham, and the team at Vanderbilt University Press, who made the whole process much less intimidating. Zack’s encouragement helped me push through the final writing and revising stages, despite the chaos of pandemic parenting.
My parents, Mary Eileen and Bob, have provided unconditional encouragement and support—from visiting us in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to traveling to conferences to entertain my kids, to reading drafts of my manuscript. My siblings, Abbey and Andrew, and their partners, Jameson and Nicki, have only increased the levels of humor, sarcasm, and love in our family.
For more than fifteen years, my ex-husband Chris accompanied me as I pursued a PhD that moved us both far from our extended families and conducted research that had us packing suitcases frequently. My sister-in-law Melanny, nephew Alessandro, grandmother-in-law Tita Lali, and dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins in Costa Rica and beyond embraced me and shared in the work of parenting. It has been a privilege to celebrate, grieve, and love with them. My mother-in-law Luz Marina and my brother-in-law Greivin both passed away far too soon, but what I learned from them about family, loyalty, bravery, and how to properly cook rice will stay with me forever.
This project was born alongside Magdalena, who appears quietly woven throughout these pages, though she was rarely quiet during fieldwork. Arlo arrived as I learned to balance research and writing with teaching and service. Their goofiness, unconditional love, and sense of adventure have accompanied me on many travels and through the COVID-19 pandemic.
INTRODUCTION
“The Family Is a Little Society”
IN A SHADY COURTYARD inside a modest little hotel in Estelí, Nicaragua, my husband and I were enjoying a cafecito after a fruitless afternoon of calling migrants in Costa Rica. Families in several of the popular barrios we had been visiting in Estelí had offered us phone numbers for migrant relatives in Costa Rica, but most of those phone numbers were disconnected, or no one answered. Don Marco, a man in his sixties whose home and small artisanal workshop were next to the hotel, joined us to commiserate about the frustrations of working with migrants and their families. A former migrant himself, Marco often offered workshops for family members of migrants, hoping to provide them with skills to produce crafts for tourist markets so they would not have to rely on money sent from abroad. Too many, he said, had been abandoned or lost touch with loved ones in Costa Rica, Spain, or elsewhere. Migration, he felt, was the largest social problem facing Nicaragua. “The family is a little society,” he said, “and migration can cause its disintegration at the level of family ties and emotional intimacy. What happens to the larger society,” he went on to ask, “when all these little societies fall apart? On what does the larger society become based?”
Marco’s provocative questions haunted me as I struggled to connect with, interview, and make sense of the transnational family lives of Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica and Nicaragua, migration is often blamed for family instability and breakdown as Nicaraguan migrant parents, especially mothers, leave families behind. When I first started out researching Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica and their families, one Costa Rican colleague, a sociologist and feminist scholar, told me that in her own research with Nicaraguan seasonal migrant workers, “the frequency of changing partners caught my attention. Ni

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