Materialising Care across Borders: Sent Things and Family Ties between Sweden and Ukraine



This article is an exploration of transnational family links and how they are materialised. Based on interviews with Ukrainian migrants living in Sweden, we discuss different dimensions of the everyday practices of sending things back and forth between family members. We find that what these packages embody and represent are more complex than tropes of economic need, obligation and responsibility allow for. Of course, in many senses they do reveal stories of highly gendered practices of care and duty, and economic divides between Sweden and Ukraine. We find, however, that they are also stories of mutuality, love, fun and shifting post-Soviet subjectivities. This article then both underlines the enduring importance of physical things in maintaining close family connections across distance and reminds us that these material connections are not fixed but instead are mutable circulations, shaping and shaped by generational change and lifecourse experiences.


Transnational familiesMaterialityCareLoveUkrainian migrants
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 250–264
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.399
  • Submitted on 29 Sep 2020
  • Accepted on 15 Apr 2021
  • Published on 3 Sep 2021
  • Peer Reviewed