Negotiating Agency and Home-Making: The Processing and Resettlement of Unaccompanied Minors in the U.S.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:10
Oral Presentation
Luis TENORIO, University of California, Berkeley, USA
In 2016, UNICEF reported children as the fastest-growing migrant demographic--estimating 50 million worldwide. The U.S. has experienced this demographic shift with independent children from the Northern Triangle of Central-America--over 68,000 in 2014 alone. From data gathered through an eighteen-month participant observation project, this paper centers the experience of these unaccompanied minors to analyze the way they negotiate the dynamics and contested notions of agency and dependence; how they leverage different networks in the process of home-making and belonging; and how they navigate and/or resits incorporation as a population both absent the presence of traditional parental/guardian figures and whose formative years are still unraveling. With this analysis done against the backdrop in which the U.S. state holds particular relationships of power with these children's countries of origin, it serves as a critique of U.S. assumptions and notions of children/childhood and underscores the cultural tensions that then affect both the processing and resettlement of these minors.