“Permanently temporary” away: temporal implications of transnational family life
Seminar | 24 January 2024


Seminar on Cultural Diversity in Contemporary Families

“Permanently temporary” away: temporal implications of transnational family life


24 January 2024 | 14h30 | Online



Olga Cojocaru           




Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot

Université Libre de Bruxelles







"This presentation will examine how work, migrancy and personal/family life shape particular temporal experiences. Based on data from in-depth interviews with Moldovan domestic workers in Italy, I provide insights into particular ways of “doing time” during transnational family separation, a temporally thick experience per se. In migrants’ testimonies, the feeling of homesickness featured as central, manifested as a yearning to be somewhere and sometime else, and as such suggesting a displacement not only spatial, but especially temporal. I argue that in addition to the emotional work required in the management of transnational living, migrants need to take on analogous “time work” (Flaherty, 2003), by which I mean the purposeful effort to customize the qualities of everyday time. Hence, I point to the ways that these labour migrants engage with time to overcome solitude, homesickness, and even certain time pathologies associated with the nature of the work they perform (boredom, repetitiveness, ever-availability). Moreover, beyond the domestic realm, I indicate that time work is needed to manage transnational family life, including temporal effort in terms of time allocation, use, planning, sharing time, reunions, keeping in touch, etc. to compensate for the separation. Lastly, I show how migrants' prolonged temporariness affects the way they manage time and experience its daily qualities."





Olga Cojocaru is currently a postdoctoral researcher at CIES-Iscte, working on the project AspirE, "Decision making of aspiring (re)migrants to/within the EU: The case of labour market-leading migrations from Asia". Over the past years, she has been affiliated with the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw where she has completed her PhD on migrant temporalities with a case study on Eastern European migrants in Italy. Olga has held research fellowships at the New Europe College in Bucharest, at the University of Oxford's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), at European University Institute in Florence, and with ERSTE Foundation for Social Research. She holds an MA degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Central European University in Budapest and an MA in Cultural Anthropology from NSPSPA in Bucharest. 


Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot is tenured research associate (chercheuse qualifiée) of the National Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS) and senior lecturer (maîtresse d’enseignement) at the Laboratory of Anthropology of Contemporary Worlds (LAMC) of the Université libre de Bruxelles. She is principal investigator of a research project on Belgian-Asian couples and their contextual mobility (BelMix: https://belmix.hypotheses.org/) and a study of decision-making of aspiring Asian (re)migrants to/within Europe (AspirE: https://aspire.ulb.be/). Since 2012, she has been specifically researching conjugal mixedness in Belgian-Thai transnational social spaces.



→ Download PDF