Accepted Paper:

Re-imagining the future: how Syrian refugees in Belgium anticipate, aspire and dream about the rest of their lives  

Authors:

Robin Vandevoordt (Ghent University)
Gert Verschraegen (University of Antwerp)

Paper short abstract:

In this presentation we examine how Syrian refugees anticipate, aspire and dream about their futures. We thereby explore how these imaginaries of their futures feed into established and new transnational social ties.

Paper long abstract:

How do refugees anticipate actual changes, aspire towards material, social and personal success, and dream about a better life? According to the recent sociological and anthropological literature on 'future imaginaries', such attempts to imagine and anticipate an unknown future have a crucial impact on present actions, experiences and interactions. The capacity to imagine a yet un-existing reality forms a crucial part of daily sense-making practices and provides orientation for small and big decisions on the individual life-course.

In this sense forced migration can be understood as not only rupturing people's past and present but also people's future imaginaries. When driven out of their homes, people are forced to re-imagine what is yet to come. In this presentation we will provide some insight into this issue by drawing upon 39 in-depth interviews with Syrian refugees in Belgium. We will reconstruct, more precisely, how their future imaginaries have changed throughout their migration trajectories, and how these are intricately related to the transnational ties they have developed over time. How do they anticipate, aspire and dream about their future as they migrate from their old to a new home? And how do these changes in an imagined future relate, to the nourishment of transnational ties? Older transnational ties, on the one hand, may serve to keep past anticipations, aspirations and dreams alive, precisely by nourishing contact with those who were left behind. New transnational ties, on the other, may relate to new future imaginaries as forced migrants develop new ties across European states.

Panel Mig03
Temporalities, migration and home: comparative perspectives