The Missing, the Present and the Hoped: Three Different Family Modalities of Afghan Unaccompanied Young Male Migrants in Karasu Neighborhood, Istanbul

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Nihan BOZOK, Beykent University, Turkey
Mehmet BOZOK, Maltepe University, Turkey
Istanbul is the primary centre of attraction for migrants from Asia, Middle East, and Africa in Turkey; and one of the largest of those migrant groups is the younger Afghan males, who come as unaccompanied migrants (UNHCR, 2015). This presentation is grounded on the data collected in the qualitative field study conducted in Karasu Neighbourhood, Istanbul during summer 2015. These migrants predominantly work in construction and textile sectors in vulnerable employment conditions. This study discusses how unaccompanied young Afghan male migrants construct family imaginations in terms of survival, accommodation, employment, interpersonal relations, and time and space.

In this study, collecting life stories of 28 unaccompanied young Afghan male migrants via in-depth interviews, we identified and focused on narratives of three different family modalities, each of which were told with diverse time and emotion references. The first modality, which we call “the missing family” represents families of the migrants which were lost in conflicts in Afghanistan; left in the past; fallen apart in the process of migration; spatially distant; missed; in other words the migrants’ families of their lost childhood days. The second modality, which we call as “the present family”, represents families of the migrants which they share with their other fellow young male Afghan migrant in shantytown households, which they go to their workplaces from, which they supply personal emotional care, healthcare, security and food to other members of the household and do other domestic duties and provide social reproduction. The third modality which we call as “the present family”, is “the hoped family”, which the migrants dream and plan to start, by marrying a girl from Afghanistan, managing to pay their expensive bride price, and constructing a happy life, establishing their personal integrity. In conclusion, we observed that the migrants distribute their earnings to these three modalities.