Associate Professor, Ph.D.
The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University
Global Journeys: Exploring the links between youth transitions and transnational migration
The world’s youth are increasingly on the move. Young people between the ages of 15-29 constitute about 50% of all documented, international migrants in the world. Youth travel as labour migrants, refugees, students, professionals, and even pilgrims. A considerable number of young people also cross national borders as illegal migrants both within the global South and from the global South to the global North. Both legal and illegal migrants are compelled to take on new social roles and responsibilities when moving to new locations. This is particularly true for young migrants who are on the threshold of adulthood, and are thus in the process of negotiating new social and generational positions for themselves.
To shed light on the interface between geographical locations and generational positions, this paper discusses the relationship between cultural constructions of youth and transitions to adulthood in the context of transnational migration. By exploring the link between migratory experiences and life course transitions, the paper seeks to expand our understanding of youth transitions to adulthood, which in the field of youth research is most often framed by studies of young people in the global North. Exploring transitions to adulthood through the lens of transnational migration highlights the increasing impact of globalization on normative constructions of youth, and underscores how geographic mobility enables young migrants to reposition themselves in generational hierarchies.
Drawing on ethnographic data (1994-2010) collected among young Nepalese - both those who stay behind in Nepal but envision a life abroad, and those who migrate to India and Denmark - the purpose of this paper is to expand the links between research on migration and research on youth.