Transnational Family Dynamics, Second Generation and the Ties that Flex: Palestinian Migrants between the United States and the West Bank

In: Hawwa
Riina IsotaloIDS, University of Helsinki

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This article aims at supplementing the discussions on transnational family life and second generation. More specifically, it aims to look at the consequences of spatially fractured parent-child and kin relations and the years spent in the United States in the encounters between young women and different collectives in Palestine; how background shaped their experiences 'at home'. It also intends to distinguish between different family members and power relations and agency created and sustained through transnational family ties. Second- and third-generation transnational ties and practises are often approached from the perspective of the migration destination country. The present article, however, sheds light to the perspective of country of origin and 'reverse migrants' as Levitt (2002) put it. I refer to these individuals as transmigrants (Basch et al. 1994), return migrants and in some cases returnees. The paper argues that young western-born return migrant women associate with transnational family in shifting and sometimes-ambivalent ways that reflect their responses to gendered and generational forms of incorporation and rejection that female transnationals face in specific societal contexts. The argument implicates that the meanings of transnational family ties and the motives behind transnational practices can change even during a rather short time-span. Yet the forms of transnational practices, such as marriage patterns, may remain seemingly traditional. The paper concludes that transnational family ties are a resource for Palestinian migrants of second and third generation; they remain meaningful even when young transmigrants have a conscious oppositional stand in relation to gender roles and family ideology that these ties imply.

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