Child Migration in Africa (Africa Now)

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9781848134560: Child Migration in Africa (Africa Now)
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Child Migration in Africa explores the mobility of children without their parents within West Africa. Drawing on the experiences of children from rural Burkina Faso and Ghana, the book provides rich material on the circumstances of children's voluntary migration and their experiences of it. Their accounts challenge the normative ideals of what a 'good' childhood is, which often underlie public debates about children's migration, education and work in developing countries. The book also includes rural and urban relatives' views on young people's migration, which together with the child migrants' own descriptions of their motivations, offer a window on the decision-making processes involved. Their reasoning demonstrates that children's migration does not necessarily signify a rupture in family relations. The comparative study of Burkina Faso and Ghana highlights that social networks operate in ways that can be both enabling and constraining for young migrants, as can cultural views on age- and gender appropriate behavior. The book questions easily made assumptions regarding children's experiences when migrating independently of their parents and, by drawing parallels with children's migration in Latin America and Asia, contributes to analytical and cross-cultural understandings of childhood. This book is an important and timely contribution to an under-researched area, which has been subject to much policy-making on unsupported grounds.

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About the Author:

Dorte Thorsen is a visiting research fellow at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research at the University of Sussex. She has done ethnographic research with children and youth migrating from the Bisa region in south-eastern Burkina Faso to Ouagadougou and Abidjan and with their rural families in some twenty villages. Raising methodological questions about the way in which children's and youth's agency can be studied beyond a narrow focus on verbal negotiations, her research theorises decision-making processes linked with young migrants' performance of identities, urban labor relations and the enactment of relatedness. She has published book chapters and policy papers based on this research, and articles in the journals Migrations & Hommes, Africa, Forum for Development Studies and the Journal for Comparative Family Studies.  Iman Hashim is a Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, working on children's independent migration from rural north-eastern Ghana to rural and urban central Ghana. Her current work builds on long-term ethnographic research undertaken in a farming community in north-eastern Ghana, where she focussed on the work of children for their own households, as well as on community attitudes toward education and children's experiences of education. She also has worked for national and international non-governmental organizations as a program and a research officer.

Review:

“This well-written research-based text offers fascinating insights into the complexities of children's migrant experiences in West Africa. Based on ethnographic research in the rural sending communities as well as interviews at the migrant destinations, Hashim and Thorsen use in-depth empirical examples in order to place children's accounts at the centre of their analysis. A timely, comprehensive and engaging book which illuminates the diversity and challenges of understanding processes of children's migration.” -- Samantha Punch, University of Stirling “Without either romanticizing children's resilience or disregarding their agency, this book places children's voices and views at the centre of a careful and cogent analysis of children's independent migration in West Africa. Original, intelligent, and accessible, it adds significantly to current academic and policy debate on childhood, migration and mobility.”-- Prof Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham “In trash dumps, brothels and other sites where children toil in the worst forms of child labor, it is not unusual to encounter a preponderance of children who have migrated outside their family support networks. This study is an important early contribution in the nascent literature aimed at understanding independent child migration. It provides voice to independent child migrants in West Africa. The diversity of experiences is thought-provoking. This impressive work will serve as a foundation for further research that examines the extent to which these narrative accounts generalize beyond the voices found by these authors.” -- Professor Eric Edmonds, University of Dartmouth
  “The amazing stories of children who leave behind their families to fight poverty take shape from the field notes of clever interviewers. So responsible and determined, these 'young youths' strive to achieve essential elements of well-being, such as health, education and economic security. Children's decisions to migrate are placed in context with a rigorous method of investigation and the result is a vivid portrait of people's lives within households and villages of Burkina Faso and Ghana.” -- Professor Gianna Giannelli, Associate Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Law of the University of Florence 
 

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