Examining transnational care circulation trajectories within immobilizing regimes of migration: Implications for proximate care

  • Laura Merla
  • Majella Kilkey
  • Loretta Baldassar
Keywords: transnational families, care circulation, regimes of mobility, proximity, wellbeing


In this paper we argue that the current political context of restrictionist migration policies is dramatically affecting people’s capacity to cross borders to engage in proximate care with their relatives, which is a central, yet often overlooked, feature of transnational care practices. We examine how the wider context of temporality, restrictive mobility, and heightened uncertainty about the future affect people’s ability to be mobile and to move back and forth for caregiving. In examining the wellbeing effects of such restrictions, we highlight their variable impact depending on factors such as socio-economic positioning, life-course stage and health. The first sections of the paper present the care circulation framework and the particular meaning and function of proximate forms of care, as well as the main categories of care-related mobility that support this. We illustrate the dynamics and challenges faced by transnational family members, who engage in these care-related mobilities, through three vignettes involving care circulation between India and the UK, China and Australia, and Morocco and Belgium. In the final section, we discuss our vignettes in relation to the political, physical, social and time dimensions of current regimes of mobility that impact on care-related mobilities. We argue that the regimes of mobility that currently govern care-related mobilities are best understood as ‘immobilizing regimes’ with important and undervalued implications for ontological security and wellbeing.