TRANSMIGRANCY EXPERIENCES OF EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPEAN AU PAIRS IN THE WASHINGTON D.C., METROPOLITAN AREA
Korzeniewicz, Roberto P
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This dissertation explores transmigrancy experiences of au pairs by examining the processes of building and maintaining transnational mobilities among this population. These processes involve these women's motivations for becoming au pairs in the United States, settlement plans and strategies prior and subsequent to migration, and long-term incorporation patterns in the home and host countries. I employ intersectionality and transnational feminist frameworks of analysis in order to contextualize and scrutinize multidimensionality of women's transmigrancy experiences at multiple levels. At the individual level, I look at the extent of transmigrant women's agency in seeking their initial and long-term settlement plans. At the intermediate level, I examine the extent of their social networks in shaping their settlement and incorporation goals by analyzing formation, types, and sustenance of these networks at the local and transnational levels. At the structural level, I investigate the structural contexts their agency is embedded in, and how their transmigrancy experiences and practices relate to structural power relations of gender, social class, marital status, nationality, and immigration status. The findings of this research draw on a three-year-long feminist ethnographic study of transmigrant women who originated from Eastern and Central European post-communist countries, entered the United States through au pair programs and were residing in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area. I show that these women were primarily motivated to partake in au pair programs for non-economic goals such as cultural exchange, and planned short-term settlement. However, in the long-term, they sought to sustain double affiliation in their home countries and the United States for negotiating oppressive economic, cultural, and social structures intensified with post-communist transition in their home countries. In doing so, they managed to maintain a legal immigration status and ultimately planned to obtain permanent residency rights in the United States. The empirical findings of the dissertation challenge overgeneralized assumptions on transmigrants' agency, social networks, settlement, and incorporation patterns in transnationalism scholarships. It also contributes a nuanced understanding of the dynamics and complexities of building and maintaining transnational mobilities among an under-researched population; namely, au pair transmigrants.