Author:Wiebe Ruijtenberg (Leiden University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper builds on the notion of doubt as theorized by Pelkmans (2013) to make sense of Egyptian parents' pursuits of a better future for their children in Amsterdam thus deepening the recently emerging understanding of migration as a quest for the good life.
Paper long abstract:
This paper builds on the notion of doubt (Pelkmans, 2013) to make sense of Egyptian parents' pursuits of a better future for their children in Amsterdam, thus contributing to the recently emerging understanding of migration as a quest for the good life. Doubt, as Pelkmans notes, not only points to ontological and epistemological questions of 'what is' and 'what is true', but also, and sometimes more pressingly, to the pragmatic question of 'what to do' (p. 2). Doubt is 'an active state of mind … directed at a questioned object' (p. 3), 'not the opposite of believe' but instead 'implicated in it', and sometimes 'a facilitator of action by triggering a need for resolution' (p. 4). For the Egyptian parents in Amsterdam among whom I conducted over a year of fieldwork, the questioned object was the good future of their children which they believed to be in reach but also feared to be at risk. For these parents, how to secure a better future is indeed a more urgent question than what actually defines a good life. And so, although the notion of a good life informed life changing decisions - e.g. to return the children to Egypt or keep them in Amsterdam - it also remained an abstract longing. By introducing the notion of doubt, this paper thus theorizes the good life as a notion to believe in and act upon, but never be fully convinced of allowing it to become a driving force behind many migration projects.
Migration and the imaginaries of 'good life' [ANTHROMOB]