Sara Rendell

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9621

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Rendell, Sara R., U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Closeness through Distance: Geo-Political Intimacies between the U.S. and West Africa,' supervised by Dr. Adriana Petryna

Preliminary abstract: Currently, states impose immigration policy through codifying, adjudicating and restricting kin relationships (Lee 2015). Restrictive immigration policy disaggregates closeness of kin, by separating relatedness from geographical proximity, material interdependence, and emotional bondedness. Migrational decisions dynamically reshape kinship relations and the choices these kindred orientations necessitate. My project interrogates kinship as an object of transnational governance, and as a motive force for broader patterns of global movement across racialized, classed, and gendered lines. Rendering closeness as an ethnographic object, I explore this analytic opening for interrogating the simultaneous disaggregation and intensification of kinship in this era of mass migration. Across a transnational kin network that extends from Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), to Dakar (Senegal), to Cleveland, I will conduct eighteen months of multisited relational ethnography to understand how forms of closeness are shaped by restrictive state policies and produce gendered, raced, and classed trajectories of movement and settlement. My investigation of kinship and closeness across distance rethinks the migrant trajectory. Overall, I ask how do kin groups–when spread across continents, in a geopolitical context that disaggregates relational worlds–redefine closeness? In short, what is ‘closeness through distance’? This study will connect state strategies for restricting mobility with intimate, often undocumented, tactics of remaking closeness in order to understand changing definitions of the transnational family and what constitutes global closeness today. Through examining kindred networks, materiality and policy, I will elucidate what constitutes closeness-of-kin in this era of mass migration.