Trajectories of Education and Migration between Morocco and Italy: Gender Identities and Agency in Female Narratives
Scienze Sociali - Social Science Università di Torino - University of Turin Torino, Italy
The case study analyses the trajectories of Moroccan mothers who attend two Adult Education and Training Centres in Turin. The aim of the research is to explore how migrant women compose and represent gender identities and individual agency, using a multidimensional approach that includes three analytic levels: institutional (immigration law, rules for the recognition of foreign diplomas, education agencies, preschool facilities); meso-sociological (households and migrant networks); micro-sociological (individual traits such as age, educational qualifications, area of origin, motivations and expectations).
The Moroccan female paths are positioned in a stereotypical discourse about the women's proper rule in the social space. The mothers present their migration and education choices in relation to husband, to their children and the context. Usually they do not perform themselves as an autonomous agent.
Nevertheless the mothers of preschool children interviewed are not merely "dependent" migrants: they leave their country to expanding their capabilities. Also if they "follow their husbands", they contribute to elaborating the migration strategies, create intercultural relations and assure the family reproduction by strengthening a gendered system of transnational care exchange.
They participate in the courses to improve their Italian, to contrasting the stigmatization, to help their children at school and to increasing their work opportunities. The Education Centres have two rather distinct functions. On the one hand, they offer a second chance to those women who dropped out earlier in Morocco. On the other hand, they replace the Moroccan qualification with an Italian one. But the rules currently regulating the recognition of foreign degree are quite complicated: both educated and non-educated Moroccan women face the same difficulties of integration into the labour market. Some graduated mothers stop looking for a job because refuse the underemployment.
Female identities and projects are constructed in and trough these migrant narratives. They are not fixed, but continually produced by their protagonists. The incorporation of heterogeneous stories into the migrant network help to spread a new stratified discourse about women's migration, in which the stereotypical representations of Moroccan femininity is being gradually re-invented.