Symposium 8: Transnational care within the European Union in times of COVID-19: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe

Convenors: Petra Ezzeddine (Charles University) and Michael Leiblfinger (Johannes Kepler University)

Transnational care migration was affected in numerous ways during the COVID-19 pandemic: Closed borders limited the ability of care workers to travel. Travelling itself was accompanied with an additional risk of contagion. Live-in carers were asked to extend their rotas and not to leave the households in an effort to protect the elderly in their care. They also faced psychological burdens of worrying about their own families and weighing those worries against maintaining an income as migrant live-ins abroad. Governments reacted to (potential) care(r) shortages with various measures. The specific temporal work arrangements (circular migration or repetitive temporal migration) were shaped by the biopolitical measures (e.g., frequency of obligatory testing) at borders. This ‘permanent temporality’, which usually enables care workers to coordinate their own reproductive and productive activities during care migration, seems to be collapsing in times of crises. Four papers covering care migration from Central and Eastern Europe discuss these developments: Uhde and Ezzeddine show how the pandemic shed light on the everyday functioning of the transnational political economy of social reproduction based on regional inequalities within Europe and discuss Czech care mobility faced with changing border regimes and biopolitics during COVID-19. Safuta’s contribution is based on the online activity of Polish migrant live-ins working in Germany during the first months of the pandemic and shows how those workers dealt with old and new challenges related to their transnational living and working conditions. Leiblfinger, Prieler, Rogoz, and Sekulová investigate the impact of COVID-19 related policy responses for transnationally organised live-in care in Austria and its most important sending countries Romania and Slovakia as interconnected care mobility. Seiffarth focuses on Romanian live-in care workers in Italy, one of countries hit hardest by the pandemic and a country relying heavily on care at home, which in turn highlighted the vulnerabilities of those working closely with the at-risk elderly population. Our interdisciplinary panel brings together junior and senior researchers in the field of care migration as well as the perspectives from both sending and receiving countries.


  • The Transnational Political Economy of Social Reproduction in Central Europe; Zuzana Uhde (Czech Academy of Sciences) and Petra Ezzeddine (Charles University, Prague)
  • A transnational care market in pandemic times: Migrant care workers in Germany between a deadly virus, households in need and agencies in demand; Anna Safuta (University of Bremen)
  • Confronted with COVID-19: Migrant live-in care during a pandemic; Michael Leiblfinger (Johannes Kepler University Linz), Veronika Prieler (Johannes Kepler University Linz), Mădălina Rogoz (International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Vienna), and Martina Sekulová (Slovak Academy of Sciences)
  • Crises as catalysts? The case of Romanian migrant care workers in Italian home-based care arrangements; Marlene Seiffarth (University of Bremen)

Ewa Ślęzak (Cracow University of Economics) and Bernhard Weicht (University of Innsbruck)

Posted in Conference 2021, Symposia.