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Child migrants in transit: strategies to become adult in rural Burkina Faso

posted on 2023-06-08, 14:07 authored by Dorte ThorsenDorte Thorsen
This chapter explores how adolescent children in rural Burkina Faso use migration to renegotiate their social position. In contrast to the literature on children’s work and migration that focuses on fostering strategies or on children’s wish to migrate to escape poverty, this chapter seeks to enrich our understanding of youngsters’ migration from remote rural areas to nearby rural towns and the capital by exploring the less visible elements of children’s negotiations with their parents and other seniors. The chapter thus focuses on understanding children and adolescents’ migration beyond the usual economic rationale and on demonstrating the many indirect ways in which youngsters may exercise agency despite the fact that they as a social category hold little social and economic power. Detailed accounts by adolescent child migrants from the Bisa region and their parents reveal that although migration denotes the adventure of leaving home for children and the opportunity to increase their income compared to what they can earn by farming and trade in the village, it is also a demonstration of a certain level of independence. In addition to material benefits, migration is perceived by young and old alike as a way for youngsters to increase their social status and mature sufficiently to take on adult responsibilities within the household. Consequently, to assert identities as successful migrants and mature persons, adolescent child migrants are obliged to take on adult roles and show responsibility towards their family


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  • Published


Nordiska Afrikainstitutet

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Book title

Navigating youth, generating adulthood : social becoming in an African context

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Department affiliated with

  • Anthropology Publications

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  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Henrik E Vigh, Catrine Christiansen, Mats Utas

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