Fathermen : predicaments in fatherhood, masculinity and the kinship lifecourse. Dominica, West Indies
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Fathermen is an ethnographic journey in the kinship lives of men on the island of Dominica, West Indies. It traces the various complexities, conundra and contradictions Dominican men encounter and create as they navigate relational life trajectories. These are termed kinship predicaments: moments in kin-lives that trouble hegemonic concepts of fatherhood and masculine personhood; that spark ambivalence between dominant ideals and lived experiences; that provoke quarrels between mothers’ expectations and fathers’ practices; and expose incongruities between established norms and emerging forms. Seeking to transcend the historical and contemporary circumscriptions that stereotype Caribbean fathers as absent studs or patriarchal authoritarians, this enquiry asks how Dominican men chart their own paths of paternal becoming. Developing an intuitive participatory methodology, referred to as the ethnography of relation, Fathermen commutes into the kin-worlds of Caribbean men, seeking to understand fatherhood through deep dialogue as it is built from the ground up. Organising its chapters around local idioms through which Dominicans frame kinship, Fathermen features discussions on: the romantic and conjugal tensions that precede/inform parenting; the ‘mystic’ bodily affects that draw men into reproduction; the vexed norm of paternal provision; Caribbean fathers’ emergent nurturant practices; the classed politics of paternal recognition; and, finally, men’s ambivalent intergenerational experiences of becoming grandfathers. Fathermen argues that it often takes a lifetime to realise fatherhood, with many Dominican men unable to resolve its many paradoxes within their mortal spans. Whilst it contends that men are ‘tied’ tighter into kin-life as they grow along their paternal journeys, ambivalences persist. Yet still, amidst angst and complexity, Fathermen is nonetheless an ethnography of love, dedication, familial vitality, creativity and humour.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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