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The book entitled child migration in Africa tried to address the issue of children's independent migration in West Africa. Even though there has been many ideas and concepts that requires some scrutiny the authors of the book use the term 'children's independent migration' to refer to the movement of individuals who are under the age of eighteen and who are not coerced or tricked into moving by a third person, but who migrate voluntarily and separately from their parents or legal guardians. (pageâ€¦) The main purpose of the book was to unpack the children's migration and show the different ways that young people can be migrants. In doing so it tried to understand who migrates, the reasons for migration, the process of migration, the range of work activities in the destination areas, the use of profits from their work and the return to their places of origin.
The researched based book has six interrelated chapters which offer an insight in to the complex nature and contextual differences of children migration experience in West African regions. Based on different empirical and theoretical explanations and examples the authors tried to conceptualize and contextualized the notion of African child migration "rather than preconceived assumptions". If children migrate without parents it is often assumed to be involuntary and harmful. Through a wealth of ethnographic examples from rich fieldwork in several sites in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, Hashim and Thorsen's book challenges common assumptions in policy - and some academic - work about childhood, family, labour, and mobility
The other thing the authors tried to address in the book is the theme of the importance of context of migration and how it influences the movement of children in West African regions. They examine through intensive interviews and empirical examples "the nature of the economic and social relations in the places of origin and how these influences girls' and boys' aspirations to move and family members' incentives to permit or discourage their children's movement (p18).
The book also explore the reasons or puling factors that forced rural children to migrate and how poverty and its gendered dimensions impact on the range of options girls and boys have. In addition it also examines the reasons children may wish or be encouraged to move (p63). According to the authors different forms of migration are part of the social fabric of the society and used as a source of livelihood especially for rural population. This has long been central to West Africans' welfare strategies. Child migration is also a common phenomenon. According to the case studies and personal stories in the book children moves on their own for different reasons. Some children move to earn cash, to escape difficulties and bad situations at home, to learn new practical and social skills, to experience a new way of life, to acquire social status, and to help relatives in the destination areas.
They also explore the journeys and arrivals of child migrants to new destinations and how migrants' networks may facilitate and shape children's experience of migration (66). in addition to this they concerned in exploring the how children make kin ship ties /relations and use them as a means to become migrants and also questions how migrant relatives feed the imagination of children and thus bear on their motivations to become migrants.
In the chapter six, the authors examine migrant children's lives at their destinations and also explores the different motivations leading children to become migrants and activities in which they engage and through which they enact different forms of self-realization /identity formation/ and how they occupy multiple positions and how they interpret and define their position in society, within their family and/or their peer group (86/18)
In the concluding chapter the authors tried to justify in more detail how their empirical work on child independent migration contributes to investigate children's migration in a manner that enables both negative and positive aspects of children's mobility to be considered, which in turn leads us to examine the key questions of how to conceptualize children's agency (19).
In order to explore the many facets of children's independent migration the authors use the personal stories told by young migrants, who were either under eighteen or had left on their first migration before they were eighteen. The authors based on their in-depth ethnographic work and field experience in Burkina Faso and Ghana they tried to enrich the issue of child migration by obtaining data through case studies, empirical examples, interviews and casual conversations with children in rural villages at migration destinations in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivore (Viii). Through different methodological approaches thy analyze, the under researched area, childe independent migration from emic-point of view or from the children's perspective and tried to give the children's voice and seeks to understand the complexities of migration from the perspective of the children themselves.
The book also seeks to unfold the material, social and cultural dimensions of children's migration in the West African savannah. The authors examine how children, themselves, experience various practices and how they act up on these experiences. (p6)
The authors from their empirical and a wealth of ethnographic examples they argued and contested different assumptions that encircled the study of migration and childhood. They based on their research challenges the normative assumptions of policies and some academic discourse on the concept of childhood, mobility, migration, family, work (labour)â€¦
They tried to deconstruct and challenge the notion of the western notion of childhood as a social concept which viewed as a period free from work, dependent, vulnerable, and care-receiving phase of life and one consisting school or playful leisure. This does not capture the reality of childhood in the West African context. They argue, therefore, that it is imperative to pay attention to the set of ideas and practices that constitute childhood in a particular context and acknowledge their validity, even if they differ from the universalized model (21)
Their contextually embedded analysis of child migration leads the author to challenge the universal ideal model of childhood embodied in various international institutions. In contrast to the universal model of where childe migration is regarded as potentially harmful, exposing them to risk of trafficking, prostitution, and street life, the authors emphasise its beneficial role for them. The authors emphasises the beneficial effect of work for children in the study area despite the universal model of the dangers of work for children, especially in hazardous and exploitative situations. They also argue against the assumption that children, who move from one part of the family to the other, are simply forced in the adults' decisions. They show through a number of case studies that children who migrate alone also make their own choices and have their own plans and desires.
The book gives us insight in to children's active role in shaping the social process of migration, and into children's experience and perception of migration and their role in it. The book, in contrast with other books on migration, treats children as a social actor actively engaging with the world around them; in order to justify this the authors employed a child-centred research approach that view children as main and only informants to scrutinize the issue of migration from their perspective . This kind of methodology which has taken children's lived experience and perception of migration as a point of departure helps the authors in their theorization about and conceptualization of children as migrant. The authors also argues that context matters in order to fully understand and analyse children's migration
From the book one can easily realize that work constitutes a major theme in migrant children's lives and it has an important role in negotiating belonging, social position and identity. To that effect the authors describe how young migrant boys and girls may resist being treated as a child by "proving to others that they have the resilience of youth to endure hardship and the capacity to earn an incomeâ€¦"(96)
The main and strong part of the book for me is that the authors attempt to systematically link the two different issues, migration and childhood. They examine migration within social and cultural context of the society. Indeed, they also analyze children's migration in the context of social and economic institutions, traditions, and the extensive network of relation s linking extended family members and other kinship and community group, which in turn helps them to theorize and visualize the question of childhood and migration
The other salient feature of the book is that it's explicit departure from viewing children as passive objects in migration flows. In many migration literature and researches regarded children as things transported by adults' and a vulnerable victims in need of adults' protection and who doesn't have their own choices, plans and desires.
Therefore, I recommended that, this book is an important resource in migration discourse and studies that aimed to understand the issue of children independent migration which has long ignored by academic and policy discourses. It will have also huge contribution to carry out more research on children's experience and perceptions of migration as we still know too little about this, and children's voices continue to be ignored or muted. I also hope that studying children as a migrant, the book will, contribute to the wider field of childhood studies.