The limits of freedom: Migration as a space of freedom and loneliness among Afghan unaccompanied migrant youth

Francesca Meloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

This article examines how unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan experience migration as a space of both freedom and loneliness situated between competing moral frameworks: family projects, neoliberal discourses of independence, and a quest for new ways of being. While migration is devised as a family strategy to financially sustain the household, it also creates new desires for young people: to study, to have fun, and to fulfil individual goals. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the UK, I analyse how youth find themselves caught in moments of moral crisis as both an ethical dilemma and an experience of self-transformation – caused by the tensions between family expectations, social policies, and a search for independence. I argue that young people often struggle to find the moral ground to exercise freedom and to make the good choice, without the guidance of their parents and within neoliberal politics of self-governance. This article considers youth’s aspirations and imaginaries of ‘good life’ within different communities of belonging, and it highlights the importance of the role of kinship for understanding how youth conceptualise their future, and ultimately exercise choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-438
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume46
Issue number2
Early online date20 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2020

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