When our time is no longer ours: Temporality, productivity and reciprocity in migrant motherhood and cancer survivorship

Carmel Cardona, Taey Iohe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


This paper employs a co/autoethnographic approach to examine how
traumatic bodily experience, and its memory, create a radical rupture in the
flow of time. Through the authors’ own experiences of migrant motherhood
and cancer survivorship, our letter-writing and our collective care, we explore
temporality in relation to a selection of moments of commonality, when our
time was no longer, completely, freely ours. We both experienced a stasis, a
liminal time outside of the linearity of normative time, and discovered instead
a polychronic inflection of time. We experienced time as becoming and
unbecoming, transforming our notion of ‘time well spent’, disrupting
capitalistic norms of ‘productivity’. We lived through precarious and delicate
gestational times, literally and metaphorically, which challenged our embodied
femininity. While exploring each of these themes, we draw parallels between
our shared analysis of our experiences, and the distinct temporal moment of
the COVID-19 pandemic, its radical uncertainty and the temporal disturbances
it has caused in the lives of billions across the globe. We interrogate our
collective autoethnography as a queer methodology of resistance and
decoloniality. And we conclude with thoughts about a wider responsibility for
care, a carefully constructed solidarity, connectivity and reciprocity, and a
move away from stasis, or cyclical time, to our own sense of a nurturing
futurity, fecund with potential and possibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGenderErträge V
Subtitle of host publicationTexts from the SVR Student Lecture Series
EditorsHazal Kaygusuz, Daniela Petrosino
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherHumboldt-Universität zu Berlin
ISBN (Print)09476822
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • cancer survivorship
  • migrant motherhood
  • Temporality
  • autoethnography


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