Professor Ann Phoenix visits SELMA 7.10 with the topic “Child migrants and transnational families in the European imagination”

Lecture and discussion on Friday 7.10. at 10.15-11.45, seminar room Hovi, at Sirkkala campus (Artium)

Ann Phoenix:

‘Child migrants and transnational families in the European imagination’

Child migrants have long been common around the world, usually migrating with their parents, but sometimes alone. Indeed, some countries have histories of having sent children living in poverty abroad, sometimes without their parents’ knowledge. Yet, despite this history, child migrants are frequently not recognised and are invisible. At the same time, when the plight of children asylum seekers is picked up in the media, they become the symbols of pain, suffering, innocence, injustice and difference. Despite, high profile, heartrending tragedies, however, official policy towards them does not necessarily change, largely because reducing migration and securitization have become deeply divisive issues in many European countries. As a result, child migrants are difficult to imagine, except as abstract symbols and some governments, such as the UK, have failed to admit unaccompanied child migrants who have family members in the UK and hence the right under UN Conventions to be admitted.

This talk will start by considering what we currently know about one group of child migrants; unaccompanied child migrants. It will situate that knowledge within the context of transnational families and the many ways in which children are separated from parents in the process of migration. It will then draw on the findings of a narrative study of adults who, as child serial migrants, migrated alone, but to join parents who migrated before them. It will end by considering the implications for understanding contemporary unaccompanied child migrants and why they continually fall out of the European imagination. One of the arguments it will make is that social justice requires a shift in the ways in which we imagine child migrants and transnational families.

Biographical information

Ann Phoenix is professor of psychosocial studies at Thomas Coram Research Unit, Department of Social Sciences, UCL Institute of Education and the Principal Investigator of the research network NOVELLA (Narratives of Varied Everyday Lives and Linked Analyses).  Her publications include work on narratives, theoretical and empirical aspects of social identities, gender, masculinity, youth, intersectionality, racialization, ethnicisation, migration and transnational families. From 2016-7 she is the Erkko Professor at the Helsinki University Collegium for Advanced Studies.


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