Journal of European Studies

Care drain and substitute mothering in women’s documentary film: Towards a transnational family model?

by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru (2018)

This article reads Teodora Ana Mihai’s documentary Waiting for August in the light of recent documentaries focusing on migration, such as Maid in America (2004) and Children in No Man’s Land (2008) by Anayansi Prado, as an approach to a particular form of social violence whose victims are children or teenagers who grow up without immediate adult care across the contemporary global world. I analyse these documentaries by women filmmakers, focusing on the transfer of care from mothers to elder sisters as a result of women’s economic transnational migration. I argue that they promote a model of self-sustaining, responsible motherhood based on women’s strong claim to a life of dignity and self-determination, as opposed to compromising solutions that have long been tolerated and even encouraged by patriarchal societal and political structures.

care drain, children, documentary, family, migration, mothering, social violence, transnationalism.

Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Bucharest and, since 2015, an Associate of CEERES at the University of Chicago. Her main research in terests are: in teractions between narrative and performance in contemporary global literatures in English; East European/post-socialist studies; and narrative, gender and politics in postcolonial and post-socialist studies. She has published articles in journals such as Comparative Literature Studies, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Perspectives, The European Journal of American Culture and ESSACHESS. Among her recent books are: Between History and Personal Narrative: East European Women’s Stories of Transnational Relocation (co-edited, 2013) and Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Indian Fiction in English (2015).
(Corresponding Author: Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Department of English, Str. Pitar Mos 7-13, 010451, Bucharest, sector 1, Romania. Email:


Draga Alexandru, Maria-Sabina
Care drain and substitute mothering in women’s documentary film: Towards a transnational family model?
In: Journal of European Studies 48,3-4 (Nov 2018), pp. 235-249.