Author:Katarzyna Grabska (Peace Research Institute in Oslo)
Paper short abstract:
Eritrean adolescent girls’ migration to Khartoum exposes the interplay between aspiration and desire of becoming an adult linked to a specific geographical location, dreams of being else-where, impossibilities of returning, and realities of uncertainties and being-stuck inbetween.
Paper long abstract:
Eritrean adolescent girls' migration to Khartoum exposes the interplay between aspiration and desire of becoming an adult linked to a specific geographical location, dreams of being else-where, impossibilities of returning, and realities of uncertainties and being-stuck inbetween. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Eritrean adolescent refugee girls and young women in Khartoum (2014-2016), who see Sudan as a transit place to an imagined 'better place' elsewhere. Aspirations and desires of moving elsewhere shape the experiences of and the different transitions associated with one's life course. The 'coming of age' and seeking self-accomplishment is of critical importance, where aspirations of being elsewhere and the impossibilities of achieving this goal shape the modalities and the forms of adult femininity. These transitions are also gendered, both in space and across spaces. The paper is driven by narratives of adolescent refugee girls who reflect on their migratory experiences and transitory adolescence experienced temporarily and spatially. Using insights from feminist narrative research, I examine how migration in itself becomes a modus operandi of a transition to adulthood for girls, and how it shapes the moral discourse around being a 'good' girl or woman. Through hope for mobility and the experience of waiting while faced with protracted uncertainty, I analyse how gender norms and identities are reshaped as a result.
Coming of Age in a Time of Change: New Forms of Gendered Self-Accomplishment in (East) Africa and beyond