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The place of migration in girls’ imagination

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 13:37 authored by Dorte ThorsenDorte Thorsen
This paper focuses on rural girls’ aspirations of becoming migrants in a setting where girls are subjected to social constraints curtailing their movements in the midst of an otherwise mobile society, where mothers and grandmothers frequently recall their experiences in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and boys set off on their first migration in their mid- or late teens. However, the high level of mobility affects both intergenerational relations and the ways in which girls can justify their wish to migrate. Based on multi-sited ethnographic research between 2002 and 2008 in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, the paper explores the ways in which images of success and material wealth of transnational migrants feed into adolescent girls’ imaginations of migration and its outcome. Furthermore, the paper examines how everyday relationships in rural households influence girls’ imagination about their future position in the family. The aim is thus to understand how local conceptualisations of womanhood and migration practices both create a frame for female youth’s life worlds and provide them with a range of role models whose spatial and social mobility allow them to transcend boundaries but also opens up for new demands on their resources. The paper argues that the social status ascribed to migrants in rural communities push adolescent girls to circumvent constraints on their mobility by marrying earlier and to avoid challenging their husband by accepting using their economic resources on the migrant household instead of enhancing their social status by sending remittances to their own family


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Comparative Family Studies




University of Calgary





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Anthropology Publications


Special Issue: Transnational families in the South

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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