Uncertain Futures: Migration, Global Families and Youth Culture in Kerala, Italy and Dubai

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Kerala has a longstanding history of global mobility. Since the 1970’s Malayali households have witnessed an increasing number of youngsters leaving their homes for educational and job purposes, particularly in Gulf countries, Europe and US. Whilst the existing literature has widely analysed the impact of migration and globalisation on Kerala social and economic transformation, little is known about how these processes intertwine with the reformulation of inter-generational relations and with different cultural constructions of youth and old age. The paper explores the negotiation of inter-generational relations among urban migrant families in the specific context of love marriages. It will focus on high-status/middle-class Nambudiri Brahmins, Nayars and Syrian Christians. The paper suggests that contemporary relations of aged people are informed by two main cultural discourses on youth and globalisation, and by related social practices. On the one hand, we refer to the increasing stress posed on youth active responsibilities in building personal and community futures through engagement with global mobility. On the other, we address what we call the rhetoric of abandonment, enacted at private and public level in respect to the difficulties faced by aged people in relying upon future generations. Global migration both reflects and exasperates this tension between cultural representations of youngsters as independent subjects - and main agents in the affirmation of modern family life-styles - and, on the other hand, as unreliable and displaced persons. Finally, the paper underlines how this tension is an integral part of the middle-class aesthetic of modernity and becomes particularly evident in the context of migrants’ love marriages. The study of the meanings of the (spouse) personal choice entailed by love marriages is an important, albeit often unrecognised, lens through which to analyse inter-generational conflicts and changing forms of dependencies between elders and young generations among globalising families.


Keywords: Global Families, Youth Culture, Cosmopolitanism
Stream: Cultural Perspectives
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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Dr. Ester Gallo

Temporary Lecturer, Dipartimento 'Uomo& Territorio'-Sezione Antropologica Università di Perugia Italy

Sussex Centre for Migration Studies (SCMS), University of Sussex, Falmer Brighton, UK

Perugia, Italy, Italy

Ester Gallo took her PhD in Anthropology, University of Siena (2004), and has been Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Sussex (2002-2003). Her doctoral research was about the cultural construction of youth/old age and processes of generational change in Kerala. Her research interests include religion and migration, global domestic labour, global families and transnational marriages, education and identity, citizenship.

Ref: E09P0091