Universiteit Leiden

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CADS Research Seminar | Phones and webcams in care among Indian transnational families

Monday 14 October 2019
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

"So they call every day - what's so special about that?" On phones and webcams in care among Indian transnational families

Why would adult children who live abroad call their elderly parents every day? Based on my fieldwork among Indian transnational families of nurses who migrate abroad for work, I discuss frequent calling among family members in terms of care. I use material semiotics, an approach originating from science and technology studies (STS), to explore how care can be understood as a relational practice between people and non-human entities, in this case everyday digital technologies such as mobile phones and webcams. In this presentation, I first describe how these information and communication technologies (ICTs) become participants in care at a distance by forming ‘transnational care collectives’ with family members who live in different countries. I then explore frequent calling as one aspect of these collectives. I argue that when family members are scattered around the world, frequent calling becomes a way to enact what is considered ‘good care’ at a distance. Finally, I show how mobile phones and webcams help people achieve such good care in distinct ways.

About Tanja Ahlin

Tanja Ahlin has recently submitted her PhD at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. Her PhD research has been funded through the TransGlobalHealth fellowship of the European Commission. Her publications appear in journals such as Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Medical Anthropology, and Current Anthropology as well as in the Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology (2016). She has obtained her MA in Health and Society in South Asia from Heidelberg University.

Website: tanjaahlin.com
Twitter: @TanjaAhlin

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