Fragile dreams: exploring narratives of support, widowhood & caring in later life migration
Miller, Rebekah Grace
My ethnographic work in the Costa del Sol region of Spain explores the complex social relationships that constitute and shape the daily lives of older British migrants. Through individual narratives and ethnographic encounters, I show how the often aspired to ‘migration dream’ is more fragile than anticipated. I examine how social relationships – friendships, acquaintanceships, family and others – shape how these older migrants manage unanticipated changes and challenges such as widowhood. By paying attention to how older migrants create, develop, transform and confront their relationships, I show how they are a central feature of both their experiences of later life and their migration dream. I show how older British migrants value and practice various forms of informal social and emotional support, help, and caring. Through my ascribed role as an adopted granddaughter, my research explores the importance of friendships between older people as they decide how and who to ask for help in different contexts. I also address the absence of widowhood within human geography through my multi-dimensional conceptualisation of this process, showing how it can be transformative for social relationships. I consider how the emotionally and socially complex questions of where to die and how to manage the presence of death shape these relationships. Moreover, I build towards understanding the caring community within which these migrants situate themselves. My thesis contributes to understanding how older migrants navigate social relationships, both proximately and transnationally. Moreover, through my empirical contributions I develop new understandings about how these migrants negotiate and contend with experiences that have traditionally received limited attention across human geography.