Transnational Somali Families and Resilience: Experiences of Two Generations

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:50 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Marja TIILIKAINEN , University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Transnational Somali families and resilience: experiences of two generations

Following the civil war and collapse of the Somali state, sizable Somali diasporas may be found in particular in North America and Europe. In Toronto alone an estimated number of people of Somali descent is around 100,000; in Finland the corresponding number is about 15,000. In many places of resettlement Somali migrants have faced challenges as regards education, employment, housing, discrimination and racism. Also economic recessions have contributed to low-income status of many Somali families, where not only the first generation, but also the second generation often ends up in low-paid and precarious jobs.  A family unit, including transnational family connections, is important for increasing the overall resilience, wellbeing and safety of the family members.

This presentation will address the role of (transnational) family as experienced and narrated by both Somali parents and their children who have grown up in the diaspora. What kinds of expectations do parents have towards their children as part of the family? What are parents’ strategies to support and protect their children and youth? In which ways do the children – young adults – contribute to the wellbeing and resilience of their families? How do they feel about and relate to transnational family members, including those in Somalia?

The presentation is based on ongoing research on transnational Somali families in Canada, Finland and Somalia, funded by the Academy of Finland (2012–2017). The data consists of ethnographic interviews of two generations in the families of Somali descent residing in Toronto and in Helsinki. In addition, transnational family members in Somalia and some European countries will be interviewed.