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PhD Defense Saloua Berdai Chaouni

  • October 13, 2021

On October 13th 2021, BIRMM member Saloua Berdai Chaouni successfully defended her Ph.D. titled "Grasping Fading Memories of a Motherland: Capturing Dynamic Care Realities of Older Labor Migrants with Dementia". 

Congratulations, Saloua!

You can read more about her research in an article on VUB Today

And you can read the full abstract of her PhD research here: 


The dissertation explored: 1) a multilayered image of the dementia experience and dementia care provision among labor migrant families, and 2) methodological pathways to contribute to more ethical research involving this population. The findings of this dissertation are based on five studies.
The findings show that the experience of dementia and the dementia care trajectory is defined by the intersectional social position of older labor migrants and their families, inviting us to move beyond the binary division between migrants and non-migrants with “having a different culture” as the division line. This while recognizing the impact of having a migration background, a non-normative culture and religion on care provision. The current dementia care is provided by a complex and dynamic transnational network of informal and formal caregivers that also includes alternative care forms. 

This picture of care provision is sought by family caregivers as an answer to their unmet care needs: A “complexity-sensitive person-centered responsive care” considers the multilayered identity of the older migrant with dementia. This reflects individual and structural professional care gaps to provide inclusive dementia care. Understanding this complexity can advance the provision of better dementia care for older migrants with dementia. Therefore, a new conceptual lens to examine dementia care for a diverse population is suggested. 

This dissertation also contributes to the debate on how to conduct ethical research on dementia among older migrants by moving away from the culturalist frame where it is currently embedded with biased and narrow assumptions about this population as a result. This dissertation suggests therefore a further exploration of decolonial frameworks as compass for an ethical gerontological research praxis: a praxis that engages us into a process of awareness of and resistance to the historically rooted coloniality of mind in our own knowledge production.