University of Sussex
Ahmed, Bashair.pdf (4.71 MB)

Reasons for giving back?: Motivations for engaging in transnational political activism by adult children of migrants from the Horn of Africa

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posted on 2023-06-09, 21:24 authored by Bashair Ahmed
This study explores the drivers for engaging in political transnational activism for the adult children of migrants from the Horn of Africa based in London (United Kingdom) and Washington, D.C. (United States). The key objectives are to identify the types of transnational political practices in which children of migrants engage, their motivations and the influence of social relations in settlement and origin societies, as well life experiences in transit countries. In this way, the thesis addresses the growing body of literature on so-called “children of migrants” relations to their respective societies of settlement and origin, but where there has been a relative lack of research on how subsequent generations become motivated, or not, to engage in political activities in relation to their parents’ countries of origin. This research focuses on the personal family histories (including dealing with trauma and migration histories), lived experiences of self, and how social relationships growing up in the settlement society shape the decisions of this specific group of “grown up children of migrants” to engage politically with their parents’ country of origin. Drawing on Østergaard-Nielsen (2003), the theoretical framework unpacks the different facets of political transnationalism, for this 1.5 and second-generation diaspora to engage in activism. The original empirical basis of the study consists of deep life history interviews with 40 research participants in London and Washington, D.C.. The participants shared unique insights into how their families’ pre-emigration histories influenced their identities and existing relations with the society of settlement, and thus guided their vision for the future they seek through activism. The results demonstrate: First, that lived and intergenerational trauma is crucial to understanding children of migrants’ engagement in activism; Second, that experiences of multi-county migration importantly shape the thematic and geographical focus of activism; Third, that concerns with social justice are a central theme that mobilises children of migrants’ activism, and this is importantly mediated through identity formations; Fourth, world events (9/11; humanitarian crises) can trigger mobilisation.


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