Call for applications: Youth on the move: Reframing and representing youth migration

A workshop for emerging scholars, April 11th, 2018 and international conference, April 13th, 2018. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Woven throughout migration literature and immigration law is the presumption that migrants are first and foremost adult actors making relatively autonomous consensual decisions to become mobile. In much of this literature, families in general and children, in particular, are often framed as unwitting victims of their parents’ mobility. We often see how parental absence inflicts psychological trauma on children (Olwig 1999; Parrenas 2005; Suarez-Orozco and Suarez-Orozco 2001), disrupting positive familial relationships necessary for healthy development (Gao et al. 2010; Falicov 2005; Perez-Foster 2001), care and caregiving (Asis 2006; Hoang and Yeoh 2012; McGovern and Devine 2016), and children’s educational attainment (Cebotari and Mazzucato 2016; McKenzie and Hillel 2006). Other research considers the process differently, focusing on how parental migration may actually enhance a child’s social status and access to resources, most often through remittances (Haagsman and Mazzucato 2014; Jampaklay 2006). While this literature is helpful for thinking through how parental migration impacts social relations within transnational families, what is less considered is the extent to which young people are also engaged in mobility. When youth migration is discussed, it is often normatively assumed that parental neglect or a breakdown in parental care the cause (Howard 2017). Adults are frequently seen as the primary decision-makers and providers for children and, thus, are often responsible—or culpable—for a young person’s migration. The corresponding position of the child as inferior or somehow exclusively dependent on the parent stands in marked contrast to the integral roles children often assume in familial decision-making processes, as well as to the decisions they make as social actors and migrants in their own right (Caneva 2014; Moskal and Tyrrell 2015; White et al. 2011).

This interdisciplinary workshop and conference seeks to unite emerging and established scholars and practitioners to investigate both the conceptual and territorial migration of children and youth across diverse contexts. The first part (workshop) of the conference will take place on Wednesday, April 11th, and will bring together emerging scholars with senior mentors to discuss works-in-progress and theoretical approaches to studying youth mobility.

The second part (conference) will take place on Friday, April 13th and will provide a platform for established researchers and practitioners to discuss the state of research on youth mobility today. In so doing, we are interested in critically engaging and exploring the following questions: How and why do young people circulate? What social, political, or religious networks are used to help facilitate their movement? How are young people on the move represented in the media and in scholarship? And how do they, in turn, represent themselves? In what ways does the category of youth structure a young migrant’s rights and access to socio-legal resources, and how might those categories themselves be problematic? How are culturally specific notions of human development and responsibility in tension with dominant policy responses and discourses with respect to youth migration? How might we better understand youth on the move as something more complicated than of parental neglect or absence? How can the scholarly and advocacy agenda on mobile youth be reframed to accommodate a more nuanced representation of mobile youth as complex, agentive, skilled, creative, and relational actors?

We are interested in theoretically engaged and empirically grounded papers that explore the following themes:

• Circulation and representation
• Victimhood and agency
• Historically grounded analyses of youth mobility
• Youth in migration facilitation
• Processes of “growing up” in culturally specific sites
• Socio-legal interventions and advocacy
• Issues of gender in youth mobility

Applications for the emerging scholars workshop: 11 April 2018

We invite applications from early career scholars. The workshop will take place on 11 April 2018 at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Successful applicants will be expected to submit a paper related to the theme of Youth on the Move in advance of the workshop, which will be pre-circulated and discussed in detail in with other participants during the workshop. Successful applicants will be paired with established scholars who will provide mentorship to early career scholars as they finalise their papers for the workshop. It is envisaged that a number of articles from the workshop will be selected for further revision and publication in an edited collection or relevant special issue.

Applicants must be post-graduate or early career scholars. Preferably, applicants should be pursuing doctoral or postdoctoral research. Interested applicants should submit the following documents:

1. A detailed CV
2. A 300 word abstract of the research paper they would like to present at the workshop

Applicants will be expected to submit a full paper (maximum 8000 words) before attending the workshop. The work should not have been presented or published elsewhere but we encourage current papers in progress/work in progress to be used.

Applications for the international conference: 13 April 2018

We also invite applications from early and senior scholars to present at the international conference on 13 April 2018. This conference will take place the African Centre Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. To ensure a dynamic and engaging conference, we strongly encourage innovative presentation formats from all disciplines. Individual papers/presentations will be 15 minutes long and will be grouped into organized sessions of related papers. All submissions should include:

1. Author name(s)
2. Affiliation(s)
3. Title
4. 200-word abstract (with three keywords)
5. Space and/or audio/visual needs

Unfortunately, we have limited funds and are unable to support travel or accommodation costs.

Deadline to apply for the emerging scholars workshop on April 11th and the international conference on April 13th is January 31, 2018.

Please email materials to