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Family project or individual choice? : Exploring agency in young Eritreans’ migration

Milena Belloni (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Since the beginning of 2010s, the movement of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea has significantly increased and has become the object of international concern. This migration is often explained by media and humanitarian actors as the mechanical reaction to recent conscription campaigns by the Eritrean government. However, these explanations fail to consider that young people's mobilities emerge from a context of protracted crisis. Building on the literature on chronicity and crisis in the African context, this article examines what it means to be young in Eritrea and how it relates to the motivations for and the dynamics of youth migration from the country. Drawing from a multi-sited ethnography in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, the article points to the active role of young migrants - even minors - escaping from contexts of protracted crisis. While analysing the structural constraints faced by Eritrean girls and boys, I first show how migration in this context is often seen as a crucial step to reaching adulthood that has significant gender differences. Then, I explore the interactions between family expectations and individual agency by analysing my informants' mobility patterns outside Eritrea and in secondary movements towards Europe. While most available literature tends to portray young migrants' trajectories as the result of structural circumstances or family projects, I illustrate how many of my informants often undertook their journeys without family consensus to pursue personal aspirations as well as communal values regarding moral worthiness and family well-being.
Keywords
Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Demography, Eritreans, migration trajectories, youth, protracted crisis, unaccompanied minors, families, border-crossing, agency, UNACCOMPANIED REFUGEE CHILDREN, PERSPECTIVES, TIMES, STATE

Citation

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MLA
Belloni, Milena. “Family Project or Individual Choice? : Exploring Agency in Young Eritreans’ Migration.” JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, vol. 46, no. 2, 2019, pp. 336–53, doi:10.1080/1369183x.2019.1584698.
APA
Belloni, M. (2019). Family project or individual choice? : Exploring agency in young Eritreans’ migration. JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, 46(2), 336–353. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.2019.1584698
Chicago author-date
Belloni, Milena. 2019. “Family Project or Individual Choice? : Exploring Agency in Young Eritreans’ Migration.” JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES 46 (2): 336–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.2019.1584698.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Belloni, Milena. 2019. “Family Project or Individual Choice? : Exploring Agency in Young Eritreans’ Migration.” JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES 46 (2): 336–353. doi:10.1080/1369183x.2019.1584698.
Vancouver
1.
Belloni M. Family project or individual choice? : Exploring agency in young Eritreans’ migration. JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES. 2019;46(2):336–53.
IEEE
[1]
M. Belloni, “Family project or individual choice? : Exploring agency in young Eritreans’ migration,” JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 336–353, 2019.
@article{8682734,
  abstract     = {{Since the beginning of 2010s, the movement of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea has significantly increased and has become the object of international concern. This migration is often explained by media and humanitarian actors as the mechanical reaction to recent conscription campaigns by the Eritrean government. However, these explanations fail to consider that young people's mobilities emerge from a context of protracted crisis. Building on the literature on chronicity and crisis in the African context, this article examines what it means to be young in Eritrea and how it relates to the motivations for and the dynamics of youth migration from the country. Drawing from a multi-sited ethnography in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, the article points to the active role of young migrants - even minors - escaping from contexts of protracted crisis. While analysing the structural constraints faced by Eritrean girls and boys, I first show how migration in this context is often seen as a crucial step to reaching adulthood that has significant gender differences. Then, I explore the interactions between family expectations and individual agency by analysing my informants' mobility patterns outside Eritrea and in secondary movements towards Europe. While most available literature tends to portray young migrants' trajectories as the result of structural circumstances or family projects, I illustrate how many of my informants often undertook their journeys without family consensus to pursue personal aspirations as well as communal values regarding moral worthiness and family well-being.}},
  author       = {{Belloni, Milena}},
  issn         = {{1369-183X}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES}},
  keywords     = {{Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous),Demography,Eritreans,migration trajectories,youth,protracted crisis,unaccompanied minors,families,border-crossing,agency,UNACCOMPANIED REFUGEE CHILDREN,PERSPECTIVES,TIMES,STATE}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{336--353}},
  title        = {{Family project or individual choice? : Exploring agency in young Eritreans’ migration}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.2019.1584698}},
  volume       = {{46}},
  year         = {{2019}},
}

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