Researching how parents and extended family - kin networks, care for children in current industrialized nations. How do care networks change and affect children with pressures in current society?
Robin Nelson, an associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University will explore the care conundrum and her research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
“My research lies at the intersection of evolutionary questions about the creation and necessity of kin and social networks, and the pressures facing contemporary families as they navigate access to resources and engagement in global labor markets,” Nelson said. “I try to connect issues in evolutionary anthropology and public health to ensure that those of us who are interested in the complexity of the human condition are paying attention to the changing pressures that humans are experiencing right up until the present day.
Nelson, a biocultural anthropologist has studied the lives of families and children in Jamaica since 2004. Her current projects include research on Black migrants from Africa and the Caribbean who move to Canada and how they create care networks for their children. She’s also researching the lives of children who have been removed from their primary home and put into care facilities in Jamaica.
“Data collection is the most interesting and challenging aspect of my work,” Nelson said. “Trying to understand how people make meaning in their daily lives, and the implications of these relationships and their experiences for their overall health and survival without intruding or making assumptions is the hardest and best part of being an anthropologist.”
Nelson’s AAAS talk will also focus on the socioeconomic impact on the care conundrum. Explaining there is a narrative around “choices” and the effect of money when talking about family care and maternal investment. She says the idea of choice for parents is actually false.
“Parents are working under serious constraints that have to do with identity and class” Nelson said. “When we propose what we think of as ideal or normal families, we often do so without considering the kinds of constraints people are facing in their everyday lives, and how our own backgrounds shape our theory building.”