Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2015 Issue »

    Cultural Capital and Transnational Parenting

    The Case of Ghanaian Migrants in the United States

    CATI COE AND SERAH SHANI

    What does cultural capital mean in a transnational context? In this article, Cati Coe and Serah Shani illustrate through the case of Ghanaian immigrants to the United States that the concept of cultural capital offers many insights into immigrants’ parenting strategies, but that it also needs to be refined in several ways to account for the transnational context in which migrants and their children operate. The authors argue that, for many immigrants, the folk model of success means that they seek for their children skills, knowledge, and ways of being in the world that are widely valued in the multiple contexts in which they operate. For Ghanaian migrants, parenting includes using social and institutional resources from Ghana as well as the United States. The multiplicity and contradictions in cultural capital across different social fields complicate their parenting “projects” and raise questions about the reproduction of social class through the intergenerational transmission of cultural capital.
     

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    Cati Coe is a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. She is now working on changes in elder care in Ghana and Ghanaians’ niche employment in elder care in the United States. Her work on the effects of transnational migration on family life has been published as a book, The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and in journals such as American Ethnologist, City and Society, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. She has also coedited two collections of essays, Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective (with Rachel Reynolds, Deborah Boehm, Julia Meredith Hess, and Heather-Rae Espinoza, Vanderbilt University Press, 2011) and The Anthropology of Sibling Relations: Shared Parentage, Experience, and Exchange (with Erdmute Alber and Tatjana Thelen, Palgrave, 2013).

    Serah Shani is a visiting professor at Eastern University. She previously worked as a teaching fellow at Columbia University and as a visiting lecturer at Yale University. Her current research looks at globalization, urban immigration, transnational movements, identities, and the sociocultural economic adaptation of recent African immigrants to the United States, including their attitude toward education and their relations with schools and teachers. Her regions of focus are sub-Saharan Africa, the African diaspora, and the United States. She has presented her work as part of invited lectures at Yale University and Duke University. She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled “African Immigrant Parents, Transnational Lives, and Schooling in the United States.” Shani is also a manuscript reviewer with Anthropology and Education Quarterly and the Journal for African and Asian Studies.
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    Winter 2015 Issue

    Abstracts

    The Risks We Are Willing to Take
    Youth Civic Development in “Postwar” Guatemala
    MICHELLE J. BELLINO
    Cultural Capital and Transnational Parenting
    The Case of Ghanaian Migrants in the United States
    CATI COE AND SERAH SHANI
    Toward Disciplinary Literacy
    Dilemmas and Challenges in Designing History Curriculum to Support Middle School Students
    LESLIE DUHAYLONGSOD, CATHERINE E. SNOW, ROBERT L. SELMAN, AND M. SUZANNE DONOVAN
    The Shaping of Postcollege Colorblind Orientation Among Whites
    Residential Segregation and Campus Diversity Experiences
    UMA M. JAYAKUMAR
    Black Male College Achievers and Resistant Responses to Racist Stereotypes at Predominantly White Colleges and Universities
    SHAUN R. HARPER

    Book Notes

    Learning to Improve
    Anthony S. Bryk, Louis M. Gomez, Alicia Grunow, and Paul G. LeMahieu

    How Did You Get Here?
    Thomas Hehir and Laura A. Schifter