Constellations across borders: Brazilian children and families’ perspectives

Gabrielle Oliveira, Assistant professor at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States.

How can an anthropological perspective on transnational families help us understand how immigration shapes the educational lives of children? This is an important question for researchers and practitioners to engage with. In the article “Transnational care constellations and education: im/migrant children’s family ties across borders”, publishing of Educação & Realidade (vol. 45, no. 2), I hone in data from ethnographic research that sheds light on how children and families make sense of their transnational identity inside schools and classrooms.

These are important topics since educational researchers often foreground the linguistic-cultural differences that immigrant students bring to school, overlooking the salience of legal and cultural citizenship for identity formation and classroom participation. Moreover, they usually frame (im)immigrant children as students and English language learners, or (more rarely) emergent bilinguals. These narrow framing obscure certain aspects of students’ complex experiences, with important implications for learning. This article leverages anthropological evidence to present more holistic ways of representing and discussing immigrant families’ experiences in a globalized world.

I address how transnational care constellations as a methodological approach contributes to ongoing discussions about equity and belonging in educational scholarship. This article shows how children connect the school and the classroom space with their transnational families in Brazil. These connections are unprompted and show the intentionality in children’s understandings of identity and belonging. In this study we hear directly from children and families as they narrate their longings for Brazil.

Grandparents were a big part of narratives that tied the “here” and the “there”. Bruna a young immigrant child was one of the children who talked about her grandmother inside the classroom. When I asked Bruna what she missed the most about her grandmother she had not seen in three years and she explained: ela cuida da gente, faz comidinha, me dá bolo, ajuda em tudo, minha vózinha! (shetakes care of us, makes food, give me cake, my little grandma). As migration flows continue to expand across the globe due to socio-economic, environmental and political issues as researchers, academics and practitioners we must pay attention to these micro-contexts where children and families are working through their ruptures and separations.

Following, watch the video of Gabrielle Oliveira presents other perspectives of its study.

To read the article, access

OLIVEIRA, G. Transnational care constellations and education: im/migrant children’s family ties across borders. Educ. Real. [online]. 2020, vol. 45, no. 2, e99891. ISSN: 2175-6236 [viewed 8 October 2020]. DOI: 10.1590/2175-623699891. Available from:

External links

Educação & Realidade – EDREAL:

About the author

Gabrielle Oliveira is assistant professor of education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. Areas of focus immigrant schooling and education, gender and transnational migration.
Twitter: GabrielleMRO



Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

OLIVEIRA, G. Constellations across borders: Brazilian children and families’ perspectives [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2020 [viewed ]. Available from:


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