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Sofia Ugarte (University of Cambridge)
For Haitian women who live and work in Santiago, expecting a baby entitled to Chilean nationality involves the recognition of their maternal bodies at different institutional levels and the transformation of who they are and what they desire as migrants, workers, and mothers in a new country. Based on ethnographic research, this presentation examines the emergence of a gendered and racialised migrant subjectivity situated in contradictory narratives of inclusion and citizenship in a postcolonial context. It shows how the moral legitimacy of motherhood positions migrant women beyond capitalist dynamics of female labour migration, where the pursuit of economic development is at odds with women’s reproductive livelihoods. The analysis accounts for the emergence of a form of agency and relationality that dwells between the embodiment of gendered and racialised hierarchies and the performance of individual responsibility and self-care, shaping women’s sense of belonging to the migrant workforce and the nation’s reproduction. In doing so, this ethnography problematises from an intersectional perspective the processes through which subaltern agencies emerge in everyday encounters, and the way they challenge dominant rationales of inclusion and recognition in postcolonial and neoliberal societies.
About the Speaker
Dr Sofia Ugarte is a ESRC Fellow and affiliated lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. For her doctoral thesis, she conducted 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Santiago, the capital of Chile, with Haitian women, and their everyday encounters with state agents and Chilean employers. She looked at how migrant women’s efforts to live and work in a new country reconfigured political and economic institutions underpinned by postcolonial hierarchies and neoliberal power dynamics.
An event organised by Subaltern and Decolonial Citizenships Research Network
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