Motherhood as identity: African refugee single mothers working the intersections

Julian Grant, Pauline B Guerin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We explored the strategies that refugee single mothers used to manage socio-emotional, physical and economic challenges of raising children during resettlement in a Western country. Ethnographic case studies of 10 families and 12 focus groups were conducted. Bourdieu’s theory of social relations informed the primary analysis. Intersectionality was adopted as a secondary analysis, attending to the agency and empowerment experienced by the participants. Motherhood was identified as a key gendered capability important for the development of capital. Within motherhood, five core themes were identified, including ‘loneliness and sadness’, ‘not enough money’, ‘racism’, ‘struggle for education’ and ‘striving to connect’. Findings suggest the importance of a feminism that legitimizes motherhood as identity with attendant intersections of race, class and gender. Further, the theoretical link between motherhood as a capability and development of capital suggests that investment in structural resources could improve capability and outcomes for refugee mothers and children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-604
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number4
Early online date20 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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