Focusing on exploring the experiences of refugee mothers in relation to border securitisation, Brandy Cochrane is a PhD candidate at Monash University’s Criminology Department and a researcher for The Border Crossing Observatory and Border Criminologies. She also enjoys work as a research assistant, tutor, and guest lecturer at the University. Before coming to Monash University, Brandy earned her BA and MS in Criminology at Portland State University.
Refugee Mothers Building Security in Crisis and the Everyday
Security and citizenship are precarious for women, especially mothers, due to structural gendered inequalities. Precarity is increased in certain regions where legal measures either heighten or ignore gender inequality, specifically in the realms of reproductive health and violence against women. The lack of basic security for mothers is further complicated by migratory journeys, in particular journeys which have been illegalised by states.
States of the Global North are increasingly securitising their borders through physical and technological deterrent tactics aimed at the migration of people from the Global South. The tactics of states cause physical and psychological harms that are direct and structural in nature to women, especially mothers, due to their precarious security. Masculine, statist, single point crises frameworks like human security do not encompass mothers’ security needs when encountering border securitisation tactics. In order to determine refugee and asylum-seeking mothers’ security needs, it is essential examine their home country, journey, and settlement experiences.
Conducting interviews with refugee and asylum-seeking mothers, I find the women describe a lack of basic security in their home country and the security becomes more perilous during illegalised journeys. The precarity of security is additionally complicated by mothering within insecure contexts due to structural inequalities and state practices.
There are immediate crisis points during migration which are often the focus of refugee experience, but the daily devastations incurred by mothers emerge as focus points for the women themselves. The insecurity increases mothers’ carework in isolating situations, such as in transit, detention facilities, and host countries, as well as fracturing relationships with family and children. Women’s agency is clearly present when navigating the daily challenges of motherhood within insecure spaces.
Taking into account factors of temporality, fluidity, and place for mothers, I centre carework as a basic need identified and draw on the idea of capabilities to reconceptualise security for mothers. Furthermore, I demonstrate how women exercise their agency and build security through motherhood.
Borders, Gender, Security, Illegalised Migration