Shared and Equal Parenting: Historical, Transregional, and Comparative Perspectives
November 2021 – April 2022
Shared and Equal Parenting studies political contestations over the equalisation of parental rights from the 1950s to the present. It focuses on debates about joint custody legislation in Germany, India, and in global activist, scientific, and policy networks. In these debates, the focus shifted from shared legal custody to shared physical custody in post-divorce settlements. In recent decades, the “dual residency model” has gained global currency, according to which children of separately living parents spend an equal amount of time in both parental households. Normatively, this signifies a move away from the breadwinner-homemaker family model; both parents are treated as earners and carers on equal terms. Many conflicts, however, arise from the gap between new normative horizons – reflected in future-oriented legislation – and the persistence of masculine domination in family and society.
The project combines transregional and comparative historical perspectives. First, it studies the global dynamics of the reframing of parental rights. How can we explain the global “wave” of increasingly differentiated shared custody legislation throughout the last fifty years? Second, the project comparatively studies conflicts over shared parenting in Germany, in the context of the EU, and in India. How does the endorsement of shared parenting reflect, clash with, and reshape parenting arrangements in specific regional and cultural contexts? The contestations over shared parenting are an apt case to study normative conflicts and transformations at the intersection of gender, violence, and the complexities of law. How can individual men and women be treated as equals in family law, if social gender inequality persists? How can the value of gender equality, or parental equality be reconciled with the value of child welfare? Addressing these questions, the project sheds new light on the intense politicisation of personal, inner-familial relations in the “long twentieth century.” Moreover, it seeks to understand the emergence of new conflicts and dilemmas in the strive for gender equality in the 21st century.
Jana Tschurenev works on the global history of education, childhood, gender, and social inequality, with a strong regional focus on South Asia. She is a Habilitation candidate at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), University of Goettingen, Germany. Her first monograph, Empire, Civil Society, and the Beginnings of Colonial Education in India was published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press. Currently, she is finalising a book manuscript on the history of early childhood education, social work, and the professionalisation of care in India. In her new project, “Shared and Equal Parenting”, she develops the social history of parenting and child custody rights as a new lens to understand local and global transformations of gender, childhood, and the family.