Between privilege and poverty: the affordances of mobility among aid worker children

Fechter, Anne-Meike (2016) Between privilege and poverty: the affordances of mobility among aid worker children. Asia Pacific Migration Journal, 25 (4). pp. 489-506. ISSN 0117-1968

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Contemporary research on children affected by migration in Southeast Asia has examined the impact of mobility on their life chances, choices and overall welfare. Extending this concern, this article seeks to address these questions in the context of privileged migration. Specifically, it asks how the mobility of children whose parents work for aid agencies in low-income countries shapes the way they understand and negotiate experiences of privilege, as well as their everyday encounters with poverty. Based on ethnographic research with young people and their families in Cambodia, the findings suggest that parents and children may envisage their international mobility as a chance for personal growth, specifically as manifest in the form of ‘open-mindedness.’ Such positive discourses are complicated, however, by a simultaneously engendered sense of superiority toward those who are less mobile. They are also intertwined with practices of ‘bracketing’ possible frictions arising from their interactions with children of local elite members. While the young people’s proximity to poverty provides opportunities for locally-based service-learning activities, connections with their parents’ work can remain abstract. The article therefore suggests that this form of international mobility may not, in itself, enable a critical engagement with poverty or with their own and others’ privilege.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for Migration Research
Depositing User: Anne-Meike Fechter
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2016 15:42
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 16:49

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Alternative Actors in Development? Understanding the Role of 'Do-It-Yourself Aid'G1103LEVERHULME TRUSTRF-2013-535