Mothering Across Borders and the Children Left Behind: Zimbabwean and Mexican Immigrant Female Domestic Workers in Johannesburg, South Africa and San Diego, United States


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color photo of Lorena Munoz
Lorena Muñoz, Assistant Professor Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and American Studies, University of Minnesota
Event Date: 
October 26, 2018
Event Time: 
2:00pm to 3:30pm
2239 Lane Hall
Event Accessibility : 
Ramp and elevator access at the E. Washington Street entrance (by loading dock). Accessible restrooms on south end of Lane Hall, on each floor of the building. Gender neutral restroom on first floor.
color photo of Lorena Munoz

This comparative study illustrates how motherhood materializes through the often emotionally-heavy choices that female immigrants make as they strive to take care of variably vulnerable populations often located simultaneously in different locations. In so doing, this project illustrates how domestic labor takes shape along with women’s strategies for navigating the most intimate relationships across a global stage fraught with economic and political challenges. This research is situated in relationship to transnational feminist thought by highlighting the strategies that women use to navigate motherhood within a larger context that connects their experiences and strategies across places. As such, by focusing on the employment experiences and choices of immigrant domestic workers who are part of transnational motherhood flows, furthers understandings of how emotions are entangled with understandings of personal economic failure, that are often invisible and unpaid, while relationally shaping the everyday experiences of these women. The material for this analysis is based on oral histories of female Zimbabwean immigrants working in Johannesburg, South Africa and ten in-depth interviews with Latina domestic workers in San Diego, California, including their children left behind in Mexico.

Lorena Munoz is an assistant professor in gender women and sexuality studies and American studies at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the intersections of place, space, gender, sexuality, health, and race. Her transdisciplinary research agenda has been focused on Latinas/Latinos in the global south, particularly in the areas (in)formal economy, labor, health, and productive/transformative agency.