European Early Childhood Education Research Association
Managing space and making culture: mothering and childhood at the margins
1 International migration has resulted in a diversity of spaces and localities of childhoods and notions of upbringing. This research takes a closer look at motherhood outside the dominant culture and taken-for-granted notions regarding mothering, taking into account different ways of being a mother within a particular context, culture and space. Using an anthropological lens, it also examines, assumptions made about what is 'normal' in children's development and 'milestones' reached.
2 Already Margaret Mead's (1928) anthropological study 'Growing up in Samoa' critiqued the culture-bound shortcomings in psychological theories such as Hall's claim that stress was an inevitability of childhood, or Freud's Oedipus complex. In 1987, Le Vine challenged mother-infant attachment in his observations of Western Kenian Gusii parents in comparison with Boston middle-class parents and questioned the excessive claims of universality in fields of child development and parenting styles. Furthermore, Norman (1991) in his ethnographic research among a German community finds that the Bowlby-Ainsworth model of attachment does not allow for cultural variations.
3 This contribution offers contextualised knowledge and theoretical conceptual perspectives and discourses on mothering practices and childhood.
4 Ethnographic research takes place among a community of asylum-seeking mothers living in Irish direct provision, the Irish Traveller community and Canadian mothers.
5 Power-imbalance will be addressed through co-constructed research methods based on participatory action research; ethical guidelines of both colleges.
6 This research is in progress; findings will be discussed during the presentation.
7 There will be implications for policy and practice across the ECCE sector in addition to housing, employment, health and education policies.