Navigating Shifting Social Terrains: Ethnographic Perspectives on
Unaccompanied Refugee Youth in Europe
University of Bern & the University of Teacher Education (PH)
Bern, Switzerland June 7 & 8, 2017
Every year, thousands of young people on the run from war and persecution, or escaping poverty and chronic instability, make their way to Europe without their parents. Embarking on long and often dangerous journeys, they have either become separated from their families on the way or set out on their own. In recent years, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe has risen drastically. While this has provoked much media and policy preoccupation, not much is known about unaccompanied refugee youth’s social worlds. In this workshop we aim to bridge this gap by bringing together ethnographic research focusing on young unaccompanied asylum seekers’ own perspectives, experiences and interactions. Following the routes and pathways the young people take into and across the European Union, we will bring scholars conducting research in some of the most important arrival-and transit points in conversation with each other. The individual presentations will show how young unaccompanied refugees actively deal with the expectations, rules and norms that come with being labelled a “child refugee”. By comparing the lived experiences of refugee youth in various countries and settings, we intend to establish how they actively deal with different degrees of control and uncertainty, and agency and ambition. Each presentation will focus on a specific aspect that sheds light on the young people’s everyday lives (such as the role of religion, family links, education, friendships, interactions with social workers and institutions). At the same time, they also show the specifics of the treatment of unaccompanied minors in different European and non-European countries and raise important theoretical questions regarding the conceptualisation of childhood, vulnerability and deservingness/un-deservingness in the context of displacement.
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“Young unaccompanied asylum seekers and their learning strategies in formal and informal educational settings”
28th May Saturday 10 am – 5 pm / Bern
Khadija Abbasi & Alessandro Monsutti:
"Cultural Conceptions of Migration, Wellbeing, Adulthood and Future among Young Afghans"
“The Educational Pathways of Unaccompanied Refugee Youth in Switzerland: Ways of Learning during Times of 'Refugee Crisis Talk'"
Eda Elif Tibet:
“Learning as Agency Among the Somali Unaccompanied Minor Asylum Seekers in Turkey”
“More than learning: The multiple roles education plays in the lives of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children”
“Relating histories. Epistemic Practices of migrant students”