Children on the move: Unsettling narratives of care, childhood, and the migration ‘crisis’
13th March 2020, University College London (UK)
Most children who migrate globally, with family members or separately, do so in a context where migration is increasingly framed as a political and existential crisis. Such crisis narratives often serve as justifications for rising xenophobic nationalism, enhanced border securitisation and hostile environments in receiving countries. As a result, migration regimes often set limits on care entitlements and children experience processes of everyday bordering in their encounters with education, health, social care, and even humanitarian groups as they seek care for themselves and to provide care to others.
In popular discourse and much academic scholarship, migration is treated more generally as a crisis for children, viewed as essentially traumatising because of assumptions that ‘good childhoods’ are sedentary periods of dependency on local kin. Yet, migration scholarship makes clear that mobility is a part of the human condition, and that it is the conditions under which such movement is controlled, disciplined, and framed that cause politicised precarity for forced migrants. Equally, some children’s movements, particularly those involved in South-South migration, continue to be rendered invisible both within and beyond crisis narratives, and those silent stories are also of interest. Indeed, their invisibility raises questions about when and why children’s movement is or is not conceptualised and constituted as a ‘crisis’, by and for whom, and with what effect.
The ways in which care, childhood and migration are conceptualised have important implications for the provision of, and access to, necessary resources, infrastructures and relationships of care. This one-day, inter-disciplinary and international symposium aims to unsettle the assumptions highlighted above through discussion of the following questions:
- How is care recognised, understood, constrained, fractured, and practiced in the context of a multiplicity of “migration crisis” narratives?
- How do diverse global understandings of care and childhood come into contact, conflict with, and/or amplify each other and “migration crisis” narratives?
- What are the diverse and diffuse effects of the intersections of care, childhood, and “migration crisis” narratives for children and young people living migrating in and through diverse global contexts?
We are inviting expressions of interest from established and early career scholars, doctoral students, activists and artists who are interested in taking part in this event. The symposium will be limited to a small group of participants and organised around a series of pre-circulated papers. Participants will be asked to read these nine short papers in advance of the symposium and to take part in discussions over the day. The papers will serve as provocations for dialogue among all participants, with the aims of critically engaging with current debates on children, migration and care and generating new intellectual thinking in the field.
There will be opportunities for all participants to contribute to a variety of publications following the symposium e.g., edited book, a series of short ‘talking head’ videos, short blogs and think pieces.
The event is free, and refreshments will be provided throughout the day (although travel and any accommodation costs will need to be met by participants). We will also have some bursaries available for those who do not have access to other sources of funding, with priority for activists, early career scholars, and those from the global south. Please indicate on your EOI if you are applying for a bursary.
This symposium is convened by Rachel Rosen, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Elaine Chase (University College London) and Sarah Crafter (Open University), and is part of the organisers’ broader research agendas including the ESRC-funded Children Caring on the Move project. The symposium is funded by UCL Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Open University.
If you would like to take part in this event as an active participant, please send a short statement of no more than 500 words outlining your interest in the themes of the symposium and what you feel you can contribute to the discussion. Please send your EOI to Sayani Mitra by 15th December 2019. We will contact you shortly after the closing date if you have been selected to participate.