This volume brings together a range of contributions exploring the diverse ways in which children and young people experience movements, im/mobilities, and journeys at different geographical scales and in different socio-spatial contexts. It provides a snapshot of recent work within the geographies of children and young people which has engaged with emerging conceptualizations of mobility and immobility, and builds on existing research on migration, movement, and settlement. The collection reflects the richness of current scholarship in this area, which draws on, and makes important contributions to, theoretical developments and influences both within and beyond the subdiscipline of children’s and young people’s geographies. From its initial conceptualization, this volume was not envisaged as the “definitive account” of the state of the art in research on the geographies of child and youth movements and mobilities. Rather, the intention was (and is) to open up debate and understandings about the movement and mobility of children and young people from a variety of different perspectives drawn from multiple theoretical positions and based in diverse empirical contexts. When identifying and approaching contributors, the volume editors sought to enlist a diverse set of topics and geographical contexts to be covered. The breadth of topics covered reflects the varied ways in which ideas of mobility and immobility are currently being considered by child/youth researchers. Topics covered in the volume include children’s and young people’s experiences of phenomena such as transnational migration, everyday mobility, social im/mobilities, settlement, navigations of belonging, educational mobility, medical travel, citizenship, trafficking, labor migration, borders, and boundaries. The collection is notable for the wide range of geographical contexts represented, including global South and North, and the variety of types of movements examined – from local to global mobilities, everyday to life-changing journeys – and incorporating movements bound up in different ways with processes of socio-spatial inclusion and exclusion.
In this way, the intention of the volume is to open up a range of interrelated questions surrounding the migration and mobility of children and young people, such as (but not limited to): who counts as child/young person?; what forms of movement (and journeys) count as migration and/or mobility?; how and why do children’s and young people’s movements matter?; how are mobilities and immobilities related?; what resources and tools do children and young people draw on as part of their experiences of movement, migration, and im/mobility?; which socio-economic and cultural barriers and borders must be negotiated as part of these experiences?; which institutions (families, schools, NGOs) and socioeconomic and political systems (health and welfare systems, labor markets, asylum, and immigration regimes) play a role shaping these movements?; what are the relevant and important scales (local, national, global) within which these processes can be examined?; how are children’s and young people’s mobilities constructed and understood?
A number of core themes are highlighted in the volume: the conceptualization of children and young people’s migration and mobilities; the relationship(s) between mobility, immobility, and social and spatial exclusion; the significance of education-related international youth mobility and migration; the mobilities of children and young people at different scales, such as localities, city spaces, and regions; the ways in which migrant children construct senses of belonging (or not) in host societies; and the roles of borders and family networks in shaping the migration and mobility of children and young people. The volume is structured around these six themes, but the themes overlap and interconnect across the chapters in different ways. In fact, taken together, the chapters highlight a number of key shared considerations that are currently of concern to those working in this field. All of the contributions are attentive to children’s and young people’s subjectivities, agency, and perspectives in the context of an adult-dominated world. Together they highlight: firstly, the complexities of children’s mobilities and the need to move beyond over-simplified and often dichotomized understandings of children’s mobilities and migrations; secondly, the importance of recognizing the diversity of geographical scales in children and young people’s movements, and in particular, of the ways in which small-scale movements intersect with global mobilities and migrations in children’s and young people’s lives; thirdly, the interdependent and relational nature of children’s and young people’s mobilities and migrations; and finally, the importance of social, material, political, and family contexts in understanding how children and young people experience mobility, immobility, and migration.
The volume highlights the centrality of mobility and movement to understanding contemporary society and in particular to understandings of the geographical worlds of children and young people. It highlights the richness of current research in the area, pointing to fruitful directions for future theoretical, conceptual, and methodological agendas and provides a valuable platform from which to further enhance geographical understandings of the children’s and young people’s movements, im/mobilities, and journeys.