• Elżbieta M. Goździak (ISIM, Georgetown University)
  • Marie Louise Seeberg (HiOA-NOVA)


We aim to bring together the research fields of childhood and migration especially through developing concepts of contestation and migrancy. We were established as the Research Group “Contested Childhoods and Multiple Crisis” in 2013, reflecting the crisis conference theme that year and addressing the final central question in IMISCOE’s research programme: “How do the children of immigrants integrate into society at large and how do they combine their membership of an immigrant group with that of the larger society?” Such issues have typically been addressed through studies of the integration of families and of the second generation. We find the concept of childhood more fruitful. 1) It allows us to draw fully on the rich field of childhood research; 2) It comprises the first as well as the second generation of migrants; 3) It embraces very different national contexts where e.g. emigration as well as immigration may be relevant, or integration policies may or may not be part of the picture.

Our research brings different conceptualisations of childhood to centre stage in research on migration and integration. It does so by proposing that childhood is a complex, changing, and normative concept in complex and changing environments, where families, nation-states and markets as well as children themselves are central actors engaged in contesting the meaning of childhood. Further, the concept of migrancy is useful in capturing the ascribed identities of many children: not just a category, not quite a social field, but perhaps something in between, it may constitute a social space. Increasing numbers and proportions of the world’s children are growing up in this space, either because they themselves have migrated or because one or both of their parents or even grandparents once did. In our upcoming research, we ask what migrancy means for children and young people in terms of identities, opportunities, and practices as well as querying the often taken for granted positions of children in migration and integration processes.

Current members

Name Affiliation, Country
Ada Engebrigtsen NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Andrea Svobodová Charles University, Czechia
Anja Bredal NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Anna Lundberg Malmö University, Sweden
Carmen Draghici University Paris 13 - Sorbonne Paris Cité, France
Elisabetta Zontini University of Nottingham, UK
Elżbieta M. Goździak Georgetown University, USA
Eva Janská Charles University, Czechia
Guro Ødegård NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Helene Bang Roskilde University, Denmark
Ida Hydle NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Izabela Czerniejewska Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland
Izabella Main Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland
Jacob Lind Malmö University, Sweden
Margarita Gedvilaite-Kordusiene Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Lithuania
Mari Rysst Inland Univ. of Applied Sciences, Norway
Marianne Takle NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Marisa O. Ensor Georgetown University, USA
Monica Five Aarset NOVA-HiOA, Norway
Nando Sigona University of Birmingham, UK
Rachel Humphris University of Birmingham, UK
Raisa N. Akifyeva NRU Higher School of Economics, Russia
Rashmi Singla Roskilde University, Denmark
Synnøve K. N. Bendixsen University of Bergen, Norway
Tracey Reynolds University of Greenwich, UK
Valentina Mazzucato Maastricht University, NL
Vera Peshkova Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Viorela Telegdi-Csetri Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania
Zana Vathi Edge Hill University, UK


We have organized sessions at the IMISCOE annual conferences in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

We have our own Facebook group for members and welcome applications from new members. New members should preferably be members of IMISCOE and must have background from and interest in relevant research. We strive to keep a balance between established researchers and newer recruits to the field, and between different disciplines and countries of research.

In January 2015, we organized a public guest lecture and seminar at Oslo and Akershus University College with Karen Wells, Birkbeck University of London, as invited keynote speaker and with comments prepared by Nando Sigona. The title of the event was “Governing Global Childhoods: Making Liberal Subjects”. At the same time, we held a network meeting in Oslo and invited Elżbieta M. Goździak to stay at NOVA as a guest researcher. These events and activities were funded through the Norwegian Research Council.

Our main achievement has been the book Contested Childhoods: Growing up in Migrancy. Migration, Governance, Identities. The book was published in the IMISCOE Research Series at Springer in late 2016. Presenting material from Europe and America, the book covers a wide geographical area within the global North, and presents quite different childhoods and societies. The overall questions we address in the book are: Which normative assumptions of childhood and migrancy inform societies’ efforts to include the children of immigrants and “migrant” children? How do children and young people seek to establish their positions, and how may these efforts interplay or conflict with families’ struggles to preserve ethnic heritage and transnational belonging? A related topic, which we also explore, is what kind of changes migration brings to the understandings and practices of childhood in different countries and how these changes impact upon the lived experience of childhood. Conversely, we also examine how local and national understandings and concepts of childhood influence the understanding and definitions of mobile children, and of trafficking and other border crossings undertaken by children. Based on these questions and explorations, the book is structured into three parts. In the first part, we present three chapters that address the questions in different contexts of international migration. The second part brings together two chapters that describe attempts to establish means of providing governance of childhood in the context of migrancy. The three chapters that form the third part bring to the fore how children may challenge assumptions in their own processes of identity formation.

In addition to this joint book, our members have published and taken part in a large number of other relevant activities. Some examples:

  • The book Intermarriage and Mixed Parenting, Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing: Crossover Love (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) authored by Rashmi Singla. The book explores mixed marriage though intimate stories drawn from the lives of visibly different couples. It was launched at a special event on the parenting of mixed children, held at Roskilde University, Denmark.
  • The project The Return and (Re) integration of Albanian migrants and their children to Albania, where Zana Vathi for the past four years has been looking at the return migration experiences of the children of migrants. This project has so far resulted in two publications (Vathi, Z., Duci, V. & Dhembo, E. (2016). “Homeland (Dis) Integrations: Educational Experience, Children and Return Migration to Albania”. International Migration; Vathi, Z. & Duci, V. (2016). “Making other dreams: The impact of migration on the psychosocial wellbeing of Albanian-origin children and young people upon their families’ return to Albania”. Childhood), and one article in review.
  • Marisa O. Ensor and Elżbieta M. Goździak are the editors of the book Children and Forced Migration: Durable Solutions During Transient Years (Springer, forthcoming). This book responds to the reality that children and youth constitute a disproportionately large percentage of displaced populations worldwide. It demonstrates how their hopes and aspirations reflect the transient nature of their age group, and often differ from those of their elders. It also examines how they face additional difficulties due to the inconsistent definition and uneven implementation of the traditional ‘durable solutions’ to forced migration implemented by national governments and international assistance agencies.


We aim to organize two to three panels/workshops at the annual IMISCOE conferences, focusing on child-related aspects of the overall conference topics. While considering the limitations in time and scope, we would also be interested in contributing to the Spring conferences. We envision co-editing a special issue of a journal based on this activity, and look forward to jointly exploring the possibilities of developing new Horizon 2020 proposals. As increased and continuous activity would be facilitated by better access to activity and network funding, one of on-going tasks is to investigate the possibilities for such funding.