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

Meloni, Francesca (2020) The limits of freedom: Migration as a space of freedom and loneliness among Afghan unaccompanied migrant youth. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46 (2). pp. 423-438. ISSN 1369-183X

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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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Migration, unaccompanied minors, refugees, youth, morality, freedom, aspiration
Subjects: L400 Social Policy
L600 Anthropology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Francesca Meloni
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2018 10:00
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2022 15:00

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