Conference Agenda

RN04_07a: Belonging and Migration
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Vicky Johnson, Goldsmiths, University of London
Location: GM.327
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road
Time allocation: 15' presentation directly followed by 5' consecutive discussion on the paper presented, and at the end of the session 10' general discussion of all papers presented in the session.


The Interactional Construction Of Migrant Children’s “Belonging”

Claudio Baraldi

University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

This presentation concerns some research results of a European project on innovation in education, aiming to promote children’s agency in the construction of their personal memories and dialogue around these memories. The research results regard the ways of constructing the meaning of migrant children’s experiences and identity. The data were collected through the video-recording of 96 meetings, coordinated by facilitators, in 48 classrooms, in Germany, Italy and the UK. During these meetings, the children’s narratives of cultural identities were influenced by both the way of facilitating communication and the specific social context of the schools. The narratives of cultural identities are observed as contingent constructions in classroom interactions, rather than as essential components of children’s personalities. In particular, the way in which facilitators act as co-tellers is important in this contingent construction of narratives, which frequently highlight the importance of children’s personal experiences and preferences, rather than cultural values or principles, thus showing the distance between children’s personal life, on the one hand, and stereotypes about their cultural identity on the other. This presentation highlights two results of this research. First, the facilitated interactions led to the construction of different types of narratives, regarding cultural belonging, uncertain or hybrid identities and rejection of cultural belonging and identity. Second, the facilitators’ sensitivity for the delicacy of children’s conditions of migration led the facilitators to give up the promotion of the children’s narratives, but this also led to the failure of the promotion of the children’s agency and dialogue around their experiences.

Young People Migrating In Ethiopia And Nepal: Editing Social Norms While Still Wanting To Belong

Vicky Johnson

Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom

The paper challenges assumptions that young people want to break traditional bonds within families and communities and change social norms, following Bauman’s theories of insecurity and community. Instead, marginalised young people, who often have successful migrants as their role models, tell stories of desires to maintain respect in their communities of origin. To be able to support their families, feel accepted and a sense of belonging on their return. Participatory and large scale qualitative research started from the perceptions of children and youth (aged 15-24) in fragile and conflict affected research sites to understand how they negotiate and navigate uncertainty. In both countries, young people move to small towns to find pathways out of poverty, but find services are inadequate and inaccessible to the most marginalised. Many young women may want to escape from traditional systems of early marriage and strong gendered norms that discriminate against girls. Young men feel an impossible burden to meet expectations to provide for their families. Rural-urban mobility is often a step to international migration where youth hope to find new futures. Children and youth may embrace uncertainty and find creative solutions to their marginalisation and poverty, but this is temporal. They break with traditional transitions, form new social bonds and seek alternative ways of earning a living in the informal sector, but they only want to ‘edit’ social norms and to still feel that they belong.

Fluid Boundaries, Fixed Borders and Belonging? Homes Of Asylum Seeking Young Children In Finland

Elina Paju

University of Helsinki, Finland

In my presentation I ask how the material and affectual boundaries and borders of children’s homes are made and re-made. I focus on the homes, experiences and everyday practices of young children who are either in the process of seeking asylum in or have recently received asylum permits to Finland. My analysis suggests that the homes in the reception centres or the first homes after gaining the asylum permit consist of fluid boundaries keeping some entities outside while letting some in.

To make sense of the dynamic nature of the homes of the asylum seeking children I conceptualise them in relation to the concept of space as produced in relation to and in the networks with other spaces (cf. Massey, 2008; Ingold, 2011). A home is, thus, seen as a nexus for different networks of human relations as well as material artefacts. The borders of the homes are not fixed but dynamic (cf. Barad, 2007). I explore what passes through the borders of the homes and its relation to the belonging of the children.

The presentation is based on my on-going research on the material and affectual practices of making homes of asylum seeking children in Finland. I am currently conducting ethnographic fieldwork for data generation.