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Making the emotional connection: transnational eldercare circulation within Sri Lankan-Australian transnational families

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The scholarship on care for older parents within transnational families focuses mainly on the experience of unskilled migrants and is presented largely from the perspective of caregivers. Few studies consider the case of affluent, skilled migrants, and their wealthy older parents who also cross borders to visit and provide care for their migrant adult–children. Through Baldassar and Merla’s concept of ‘care circulation’ and the lens of emotional transnationalism, the article illustrates that despite affluent transnational family members’ mobility and access to resources that should facilitate successful circulation of care, care is not easily exchanged at an intimate level. Drawing upon 30 transnational family case studies of skilled migrants residing in Australia and their urban, high to middle-income older parents from Sri Lanka, I argue that older parents construct both caring across distance and in proximity as an attentiveness to their emotional care needs, and the time and effort taken to engage in emotion work; a task that is more challenging for migrant sons than daughters. The article reveals the manner in which gendered care practices both enable and inhibit care circulation between transnational migrants and their older parents.
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Keywords: Australia; Sri Lanka; Transnational family; eldercare; emotions; skilled migrants

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Publication date: January 2, 2018

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