Accepted Paper:

"This is my room... for six months": mobile childhood of Western children in Goa, India  


Mari Korpela (Tampere University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses how Western lifestyle migrant children in Goa experience their mobile life. The children are very talented in re-organising their everyday lives and social relations according to the changing locations; characterising their lives as uncertain may be an adult point of view.

Paper long abstract:

An increasing number of Western lifestyle migrant families live several months a year in Goa, India, and the rest of the year some Western country(ies). This paper is based on an on-going ethnographic research among such children. To outsiders, the lifestyle seems to be characterized by uncertainty, instability and constant change. To the children themselves, however, the transnationally mobile life is the only lifestyle they have experiences of: for them, it is not something extraordinary or vague. In this paper, I discuss how the children themselves experience their life circumstances. I show that the children live very much 'here and now'; they are very flexible and used to re-organise their everyday lives and social relations again and again according to the changing situations and locations. The family routines and certain material objects gain particular importance among them: the outside circumstances are fluid (and the children are for example very aware of various visa problems) but the children are very talented in creating small anchors of stability into their lives. Certain toys, for example, travel with the children back and forth between Goa and the West. I also show that the children hold multifaceted competencies to navigate in various social and cultural environments. Eventually, I ask whether uncertainty is only an adult point of view to their lives or whether the children also consider themselves to be living in uncertain circumstances. Are they exploring uncertain realities or simply living in fluid circumstances which to them represent normality and certainty?

Panel W103
Children and youth exploring uncertain realities