Maynooth University Visiting Professor of Geography, Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto-Arponen, will be giving a special seminar about her research this Wednesday 25th March at 4pm in the NIRSA/NCG Seminar Room, Maynooth University north campus. All are welcome!
”Try not to recall — forget, that is the only way you will survive here”: Practices of institutional care & transcultural emotional ties among unaccompanied refugee minors
Unaccompanied refugee youth must confront the gap between institutional care (government agencies and NGOs) and their own existential subjectivities which include a complex of transcultural emotional ties, whether real or imagined. Recent changes to Finnish national immigration law has meant that family reunification is now almost impossible for minors; many unaccompanied youth will remain alone for the rest of their lives. Although institutional care is the main protective structure in these children’s lives, in this strict legal context it provides very limited context in which to consider the ”best interests” of the child. This legally created nation-state based territorial trap has resulted in new existential boundaries for transcultural subjects whose subjectivities are constituted in and through international mobility. In this peculiar setting it is even more important to ask how these young people’s sense of belonging is formed and lived daily.
In this presentation Anna-Kaisa examines the sites and ties of belonging among unaccompanied refugee minors in Finland based upon ethnographic fieldwork, and discusses how ”being in the world” is formed in the transcultural lives of these children. Socio-spatial and emotional ‘in-betweeness’ defines the lives of these children, but how and where are their subjectivities negotiated? How do they confront or conform to institutional practices of care? For a great part of these children’s daily lives, negotiations of belonging and emotional investments in social encounters might be incorrectly understood, or totally disregarded. Moreover, this experience of permanent liminality is not often discussed due to its high political sensitivity.
Dr. Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto-Arponen is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tampere, and Visiting Professor of Geography at Maynooth University. Kuusisto-Arponen is a political geographer specialising in the politics of identity and belonging. In her current research project, she focuses on the past and present experiences of childhood forced displacements.
25 March, 4:00-5:30pm, NIRSA/NCG Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, IONTAS, North Campus
Maynooth University Visiting Professor Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto-Arponen
Academy of Finland Scholar, University of Tampere