Symposium 3

Uncertain Journeys – Symposium 3

Theorising Migration: Perspectives from research with unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum

Thursday 26th June, 2014, 10.00-17.00

Royal Holloway Building, 11, Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RF (entrance from Montague Place)

Theoretical approaches to migration have increasing recognised the diversity of migration flows and the challenges this places on researchers seeking to understand migration experiences. The place of children and young people in migration has attracted more attention in recent years, with debates around the agency of children and young people in their international mobility (Dobson 2009). This challenges common representations of children and young people as lacking agency and as passive and vulnerable individuals. This research has, however, rarely considered the agency of unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum (although see Hopkins & Hill, 2008; Crawley, 2010). How useful are existing approaches to choice and agency in migration decisions and experiences to understanding the mobility of UASCs?

An engagement with the open-endedness of migration over the lifecourse and the importance of understanding migration as a process, rather than a one-off event, has become much more prevalent within studies of migration. However, this research has often focused on labour migration. How does approaching migration as an open-ended process help understanding the multiple journeys (in some cases) of unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum? How useful is the concept of ‘return’ in understanding deportation and how young people experience it?

This symposium sought to engage with and challenge existing migration theories and approaches to understanding the role and experiences of children and young people in international migration through an examination of UASCs. It brought together researchers working on UASCs, as well as those working with migrant children and young people and theoretical approaches to migration and asylum-seeking.


10.00: Coffee and registration

10.30: Introduction. Katie Willis, Royal Holloway

10.45-12.30: Papers and discussion

Catriona ni Laoire (University College Cork, Ireland): Migrant children as social actors: reflections from research with children in return-migrant families.

Karen Wells (Birkbeck, University of London). Governing youth migration: The effect of the legal status of young migrants on journeys, networks, care and futures.

12.30-1.30: Lunch (provided)

1.30-3.00: Papers and discussion

Liza Schuster (City University): ‘Why ERPUM (European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors) was shelved: A case study of policy failure’

Ceri Oeppen (University of Sussex): Why return to Afghanistan? Powerpoint slides: Oeppen UJ3

3.00-3.20: Tea and Coffee

3.20-4.30: Discussion