Children, transnational migration and school. The relevance of transnational mobility in the debate between children’s agency and structural constraints.
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy
In the last decade a significant number of children with a migrant background has been included in the Italian schools. The inclusion of these students brought major changes inside the school.
This work aims to focus on one of these changes, represented by the management of periods of absence of those children who live experiences of temporal return to their – or their parents’ – countries of origin during the school year.
These trips represent processes able to express a high degree of social complexity, involving a number of diverse and heterogeneous issues that may be of great interest to social sciences. On one side these international journeys introduce a break in the school system that reveals social changes that the school, as an institution, is forced to deal with; on the other hand, this mobility which sees children as protagonists, promote reflections on their active role in social processes, recognizing them as deeply involved in the global dynamics and requiring a change in the more traditional understanding that wants them projected only to a future participation in the world.
Based on video recordings of workshops with children and interviews conducted with teachers realized in a research year in two primary schools and one first grade secondary school, this work aims to analyze children’s narratives as well as teacher’s narratives.
The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the different meanings' constructions that international mobility takes on in these narratives and what is the space of agency for children inside them.
Navigating difference and belonging: Narratives of migrant Irish Childhoods
IT Sligo, Ireland
Based on recent research with children from migrant and non-migrant backgrounds, this paper brings focus to younger children’s intersubjective identity processes in contemporary Ireland, as situated in domestic and educational settings but also overlapped by broader texts of global media and consumption, spatial regulation, cultural and religious symbolism, mobilities, and normative whiteness. Unsettling assumptions of homogeneous Irish childhoods and of children’s passivity in relation to their social worlds, this work explores children’s negotiations of belonging to national communities. The paper illuminates processes of production and contestation of normative and raced Irish childhoods through texts and practices that were spatial, institutional and mediatised but were also reproduced by children themselves. These exclusionary currents were corroborated by conceptualisations of migration and asylum, embedded in narratives of nation, that categorised some children as ‘out of place’. Children’s contestations of such binary discourses occurred in two key ways. Firstly, the paper considers the productive potential of children’s, especially minoritised children’s, marginal positioning as a site for questioning or transgressing definitional boundaries. Secondly, the significance of playful speech as deconstructive identity practice is explored. While problematizing assumptions of migrant children’s passivity in raced settings, the paper also acknowledges the necessity for broader commitments by adults in order to operationalize children’s agency in this regard. As such, the paper suggests that interrupting exclusionary raced identities in Irish primary schools requires engagement with children’s world-making practices and the multiple resources that inform their lives.
Seeking Neverland: Refugee Children in Europe
University of Leuven, Belgium
The impact of the Syrian civil war has started with the region and expanded to the entire globe. Since World War II, one of the largest forced migrations has been experienced as a mass influx of Syrians. According to the UNHCR, as of January 2017, an additional 8.7 million Syrians are internally displaced, with numbers increasing due to the incessant crisis. The neighbouring countries have hosted more than 4.8 million registered refugees and around a million Syrians seek asylum in Europe.
Research on refugee and asylum-seeking children has been focusing on the aspects of mental health and psychological interventions. Moreover some studies investigate the multiple drivers that push children to start new lives, and the problems that they face as a result of this new beginning. This study will contribute to the body of knowledge by examining the spatial distribution of the children refugees, in particular from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, among European countries. Hence, it will investigate if there exists a pattern for selection of destination countries
The objective is to answer the following questions: Which countries are more preferred destinations for unaccompanied minors and refugee children with families? What could explain the geographical preferences? What happens to other child refugees such as Afghan and Iraqi minors? Are the host countries prepared and committed for the challenge? Consequently, with the use of the Eurostat and UNHCR asylum applications and evaluations data for 2008 and 2016 for EU28 countries and Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, the characteristics of the refugee children by nationality, age, and sex will be discussed and the trends over the years will be explored.
Unaccompanied minor refugees in the state of Brandenburg, Germany
FH Potsdam, Germany
Today, about 1500 unaccompanied minor refugees live in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, faced with a culture of welcome on one hand and rising Xenophobia on the other. In our research we evaluate the situation of those minors. Building on the empirical dataset of an explorative pre-study (Thomas & Ackermann 2017 forthcoming) challenges and problems of the minors’ situation are being investigated.
From the subject’s perspective, we take a closer look at the minors conduct of everyday life leading us to an understanding of the minors as active members of German society acting in – more or less regressive – social structural settings. The minors actively participate in our research as we form a peer-research-group. Therefore, we hope to access this vulnerable group from an inner perspective and not only from our privileged position as academics.
From an institutional perspective, we focus on the problems the young people have to deal with (uncertainty concerning the residence title, frustration, traumata, social hostility and racism in the neighbourhood etc.) and evaluate the existing problem solving strategies the institutions (are able to) offer.
From a structural perspective, we look upon the social environment the minors live in and ask what it needs to successfully integrate them into German society. Furthermore, we want to know which challenges society has to face and which changes are necessary towards a transformative society.
First results of the research will be presented.