Bianco, Maria Emilia. “Mothering, Migrating and Seeking Asylum”. PhD, Boston College, 2019. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108658.
The present study is situated at the intersection of the topics of migration and mothering; it seeks to examine the complexities around mothering in conditions of violence, precariousness, institutional neglect and mobility across borders. In particular, it documents the pre-migration, transit and post-migration experiences of 17 Central American mothers who have crossed the US-Mexico border with their children since 2014, and are resettling in the Boston area while they wait resolution of their asylum claims. By analyzing participants’ narratives, collected through in depth semi-structured interviews, the study explores (a) mothers’ exposure to traumatic events and human rights abuses transnationally; (b) mothers’ practices to survive and support their children under difficult conditions; (c) and the association of maternal experiences and practices with maternal mental health. The study documents how the unjust conditions in which these mothers parent their children—violence, precariousness and institutional neglect— contribute to difficult maternal practices—such as decisions to leave children behind or to risk taking children across borders—and unjust mental health outcomes for mothers. Some mothers in the study reported high levels of anxiety, depression and PTSD, related to contextual experiences and challenging maternal practices. Based on these findings and feminist theories, the study presents a gender sensitive theoretical framework to guide scholarship and practice with asylum-seeking mothers traveling with some of their children across borders.