An absent presence: Separated child migrants’ caring practices in the fortified neoliberal state

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IEiAK UW, ul. Żurawia 4, sala 108
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Serdecznie zapraszamy wszystkich zainteresowanych na otwarte seminarium naukowe IEiAK UW, podczas którego 

dr Rachel Rosen (UCL) wygłosi wykład
An absent presence: Separated child migrants’ caring practices in the fortified neoliberal state

Despite limited opportunities for separated children to come to the UK through legalised routes, and state attempts to block irregular migration, separated children continue to risk their lives attempting to access the UK (Crafter & Rosen, forthcoming). Once in the UK, separated children face, on the one hand, a concern over their welfare and protection as ‘children’. On the other hand, Prime Minister Teresa May’s proclamation of a ‘hostile environment’ for ‘illegal’ immigrants supports fortification of borders for the nominal protection of citizens. This has the effect of rendering separated child migrants as ‘suspect’ and excluding them from welfare provisions because of their status as ‘migrants’.

This paper explores the ambivalent positioning of separated child migrants with a focus on the care that separated migrant children themselves provide. Drawing on interview data with state and non-state actors involved in the immigration-welfare nexus, I argue that children’s caring practices are best understood as having an absent presence. Little is known about children’s care for each other by adult stakeholders, or indeed attended to; yet, its spectre permeates their accounts. There is every indication that care by children, for children, is of central importance for navigating migration journeys and the immigration-welfare nexus in the UK, and that these relationships are highly valued by this group of young people. On balance, however, children’s care for each other is considered atypical and even unchildlike by adult stakeholders, and in some cases is considered in morally-laden terms as threatening or highly problematic. 

Such an examination sheds light on the complex ways that care is bound up with state attempts to manage the immigration-welfare nexus. Here I emphasise the political consequences for separated child migrants in an age of massive state retrenchment from public provision of care and rising xenophobic nationalism.

Rachel Rosen is a Senior Lecturer in Childhood at University College London (UCL) Institute of Education. Her research is located at the intersections of sociology of childhood and materialist feminist thought, with a focus on unequal childhoods, migration and social reproduction. Her current research focuses on separated child migrants’ experiences of care, and caring for others, as they navigate the immigration-welfare nexus in England. She is co-author of Negotiating Adult-child Relationships in Early Childhood Research (2014, Routledge), which develops a Bakhtinian ethics of answerability; co-editor of Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or Foes? (with Katherine Twamley, 2018, UCL Press) which explores perceived commonalities and antagonisms between women and children; and currently co-editing Reimagining Childhood Studies (With Spyros Spyrou and Dan T. Cook, Bloomsbury Press).

Dzień później, 15 marca, zapraszamy na warsztaty z Rachel Rosen wokół tekstów z publikacji 'Feminism and the politics of childhood: friends or foes?'.

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