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Transnational Families and Complex Gender Relations: A Case Study of Zimbabwean Migrant Women Living in the UK

Chikwira, Loreen; Madziva, Roda


Loreen Chikwira


Javiera Cienfuegos

Rosa Brandhorst

Deborah Fahy Bryceson


This chapter focuses on the complex dynamics of gender relations of black Zimbabwean migrant women resident in the UK and how they sustain and maintain family life transnationally through links with their homeland. We employ the Shona concept of musha mukadzi, translated ‘women make the home’, to examine how women’s identities and decision-making are shaped by their cultures and social norms. We draw on two studies of black Zimbabwean migrant women in the UK written by the authors, to illustrate how the concept influenced the women’s perception and performance of their roles as mothers, wives and daughters-in-law across transnational spaces. The first section confronts the issue of forced separation, exploring the lived experiences of migrant women who live apart from their families, subject to immigration laws that challenge their ability to effectively sustain transnational links with children, spouses and extended family members left behind. The second section turns to the situation of women living in the UK with their children and spouses, exploring the influence that extended family members (both those in the UK and those left behind) have on how they raise children, settle marital disputes and shape their positions in the family. By looking at transnational families from these two angles, we bring complexity of gender and gendered relationships to the fore within a Zimbabwean/British cultural context, demonstrating the extent to which women face multiple contradictions across transnational spaces.

Acceptance Date Oct 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2023
Publication Date Jan 2, 2023
Deposit Date Dec 15, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 2, 2025
Publisher Springer
Pages 39-52
Series Title Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research
Series ISSN 1389-6903
Book Title Handbook of Transnational Families Around the World
ISBN 9783031152771
Public URL
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