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Title: Migrating bodies : the effects of transnational movement on women's bodily practices in later life
Author: Ghillani, Francesca
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 3898
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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When approaching old age, women's bodies face functional, esthetical, and reproductive changes that can represent a source of discontinuity in their lives. Moreover, women are constantly exposed to the social pressure of compelling stereotypes regarding their body image and functionality: from media to medical pamphlets, the feminine body is subjected to deep social observation and regulation. Given that the relationship between ageing and the body is socially mediated, how does the encounter with a different culture have an impact on it? In this research, migration has been employed to analyse the cultural aspects of bodily practices. Migration can be described as an embodied experience, in which a body is first displaced and then emplaced in two social locations - the community of origin and the culture of destination - a circumstance known as transnationalism. Interviews were carried out with women aged between 59 and 74, divided in three groups: RESIDENTS: women who were born in an Italian village and had lived all their lives there; MIGRANTS: women who moved from the same village to London and are still living in England; RETURNED: migrants who moved back to the village permanently after living in London. Four dynamics were identified to regulate the interplay of ageing, bodily practices, and migration: (i) Assimilation: encountering and integrating with the new community; (ii) Acculturation: observing, learning, and sometimes adopting norms and values of the culture of destination; (iii) Acceptance: the binding agent between body and self during the recognition of ageing; (iv) Adjustment: the set of changes in their habits that women put in place in order to accommodate transformations in their bodies and maintain social inclusion. Moreover, a new conceptualization of transnationalism is proposed, which helps to frame how, after many years of negotiation between the culture of origin and the one of settlement, migrants disengage from social normativity, gaining an augmented sense of agency.
Supervisor: Harper, Sarah Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology ; Migration ; Italian Studies ; Ageing ; Transnationalism ; Body