News

GS professor and student receive grant for research in Ghana

Assistant Professor of Global Studies Dr. Madeleine Wong and Asana Hamidu ’15 (pictured at right), who is currently studying on the Denmark Program, have been selected to receive the CIIS Research Fellows Award, sponsored by the university's Center for International and Intercultural Studies.  They will use the funds from the award to support their project, "The Family and Gender Politics of Transnational Ghanaian families: experiences of the youths and absentee parents."  The research will take them to Ghana, where they will interview locally resident members of Ghanaian transnational families and analyze the impacts of separation on local households. 

In addition to majoring in Global Studies, Hamidu works in the Language Resource Center (LRC) and has served as an intern for The Weave, the Global Studies Department's independent media project focusing on underreported stories.

Project Abstract

Like most immigrants, Ghanaian families migrate in the hopes of increasing their quality of life.  The desire of families to migrate and live as a ‘unit’ does not always pan out: in some cases, families migrate without a parent and/or other siblings while, in other cases, a parent may be compelled to return back to Ghana without their children, resulting in family separation and creating transnational family arrangements.  To date research focus on the experiences of the migrant parents who migrate and leave children behind and manage separation and parenting from afar.  Less attention centers on the immigrant youth who must navigate and negotiate a different sociocultural environment without the absentee parent, and whose experience varies significantly from those of other family members.  Furthermore, few studies examine the experiences of the parents who are left behind or who are forced to return home without their children.  US immigration law that often entails provisions for family reunification reflect a legal construction of the "family" concept that is largely premised on biology and grounded in the traditional idea of a 'nuclear' family.  Such narrowly defined conception excludes other articulations of families grounded in extended and kinship-based relationships of care, and often engenders family ruptures of various kinds.  While some accommodations are made to mitigate their outcomes, interventions of the state – such as deportation and the use of DNA testing in family reunification cases – often initiates and/or reinforces family separation.  The broader research project utilizes a multisited research methodology – in Ghana and the US – to analyze the social, material and emotional consequences of different types of transnational family arrangements for both the youth and absentee parents and other siblings.  The research on the parents (and include some siblings) in Ghana will be conducted in the first part of the summer, and the research on the youth will occur in the second part of the summer.