University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars > Cultivating Intergenerational Ideals; The Exchange of Photographs between Migrant Parents in Britain and their Children in The Gambia

Cultivating Intergenerational Ideals; The Exchange of Photographs between Migrant Parents in Britain and their Children in The Gambia

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Many Gambians migrate to the United Kingdom to meet expectations of intergenerational care, which cannot be met at home given existing economic conditions. Since many parents cannot afford to pay for childcare or sacrifice wages in order to look after their children, they frequently take children back to The Gambia at the age of six months to three years – either for a few years or indefinitely – to be cared for by grandparents and / or other extended family members, thereby having to parent from a distance. In turn, they seek to build affective circuits– that is flows of goods, money, information, love and advice through which they maintain these connections. This paper examines the role of technology, with a focus on the exchange of photographs, in the maintenance and transformation of affective circuits. Following Fedyuk, I argue that ‘…through exchange’ photographs ‘become a form of the relationship itself’ because this exchange forms part of a larger exchange relationship that is central to intergenerational relations, ideals of parenting, care and the household moral economy. At the same time, parents’ and children’s use of technologies and photographs generate tension and conflict, highlighting the complexities of long distance relationships.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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