Borders crossing bodies : the stories of eight youth with experience of migrating
In public discourse on migration, people who migrate are often portrayed as deviating from the rest of the population. This is especially true for the group categorised as ‘unaccompanied’ children who are portrayed as homogeneous and not seldom with a common history. Such simplifications create a ‘single story’ that reduces people who migrate and their complex lives to stereotypes. This dissertation derives from a willingness to contest this single story through multiple stories by multiple storytellers. This is done by seeking to comprehend what borders do in the lives of eight youth with experience of migrating. The aim is thus to study what borders do and how the participants navigate, experience and challenge those borders at different stages of their lives. This study is based on ethnography among eight youth, who at some point have been categorised as ‘unaccompanied’ children in Sweden and other countries. The fieldwork was carried out during a period between 2013 and 2017 involving interviews and conversations with the participants. Borders are analysed from a multiperspectival standpoint, which means that borders are seen as practices of both material and symbolic divisions performed by different actors constituting control. Borders not only hinder or stop some while granting passage to others; they also construct people differently. Those who are repeatedly crossed by borders eventually become inhabitants of the borderlands. Influenced by feminist and postcolonial scholarship, this study calls for epistemic plurality by acknowledging different sources of knowledge which are placed in dialogue with the stories of the youth. Aspects of their lives before moving from their homes are considered equally important for their experience of borders as their lives in Europe. The central themes of the analysis are time, love, intimacy, hope and resistance. The multiple stories of the participants are contextualised in a broader narrative, where the individual acts and experiences are identified as closely interwoven with collective experiences. Furthermore, the multiplicity of borders is discussed in terms of where and how they are manifested and who they affect. In conclusion, the analysis contributes to deepening the understanding of migration, borders and agencies in the borderlands, and in so doing restores the complexities and humanities of the youth by challenging the single story.