CORDIS - EU research results

Displacing Deviance: Second-Generation Migrant Youth, Disciplinary Return, and Transnational Social Fields of Inclusion and Exclusion return

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 2GENRETURN (Displacing Deviance: Second-Generation Migrant Youth, Disciplinary Return, and Transnational Social Fields of Inclusion and Exclusion return)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

This project aimed to better understand the ‘educational return mobilities’ of young people of Nigerian heritage who have grown up in the USA and UK to Nigeria for a period of secondary schooling. The practice of ‘sending children back home’ from African diasporic communities in Europe and North Africa for periods of education has been noted as common in scholarly research on West African diasporas, and the subject of media interest, but there has been little sustained research into the issue. Existing research tends to focus on migrant parent’s motivations for educating their children ‘back home’, rather than young people’s views. This project addressed that gap in conducting in-depth research into this issue from perspectives that that have previously been neglected: young people’s viewpoints on being raised and educated transnationally, and the perspectives of educators in Lagos schools around educating transnational children.

Researching practices of educational ‘returns’ undertaken by the children of migrants is important for several reasons. It provides insight into the way that experiences of educational systems, economic contexts, and racialised prejudices which African migrants face in ‘the West’ interact with diasporic aspirations towards continued social belonging and new economic opportunities on the continent. Choices about how young people are raised; the values, dispositions, skills and knowledges that adults hope to instil in young people; and how young people engage with their educations, reveal much about the dynamics of transnational identity and belonging between generations. Studying the new educational markets and ethos' that emerge around migrant ‘return’ mobilities expands our understanding of the internationalisation of education, and the global geographies of class.

The objectives of the project were:
• To establish new, cross-disciplinary knowledge of this issue through research in the USA, UK and Nigeria
• To link findings on this transnational family practice to questions of how migrants navigate socio-economic conditions in ‘host’ countries
• To advance the field of academic research on transnational families by strengthening international networks of scholars in this area, and producing high-quality academic research outputs

The research found that 1) Nigerian migrant parents across a large range of socioeconomic backgrounds in the UK and USA have high aspirations for their children’s educational attainment and social mobility, but are also often concerns about the low expectations of their children’s work ethics and ‘character education’ in the public schools they attend in the UK and USA, and how these may limit their aspiration and attainment. Therefore some prefer to utilise the large, burgeoning private educational sector in Nigeria as a means to mitigate these concerns, as well as foster cultural familiarity with Nigeria. 2) There are a wide variety of private schools in Lagos at different fee levels which cater to diaspora families in different classed positions. Lagos private sector secondary schools were very familiar with educating ‘return’ children and undertook important and strategic roles in educating and ‘raising’ children in more holistic ways for lives in a transnational social field. 3) Young people often contested their parents’ concerns about their trajectories and did not enjoy being ‘sent’ to Nigeria initially, but over time tended to adapt and come into closer alignment with their parents’ views of the choice being one better for their long-term future. They often highlighted reflections around how they had faced insidious racialised profiling in education in the UK and USA, and that shifting 'upwards' in classed social position through attending private school was powerful for them. On a broader level, these findings contribute to an understanding between the relationship between transnationalism and class, as families utilised their different classed positions across the transnational social field to enhance the realisation of intergenerational futures, and these various transnational circulations and educational projects also lead to new private education markets within Nigeria that are sites for articulations of new, diverse and transnational African middle class identities.
An overview of work performed in this project is as follows:

Comprehensive literature reviews conducted on transnational families and youth, return migration and education

84 interviews conducted in Lagos (Nigeria), Newark & Camden (USA) and London (UK)
5 focus groups conducted in Lagos (Nigeria) and Camden (USA)
Ethnographic observation conducted in Lagos (Nigeria) and Newark (USA)
Secondary data collection and analysis of online forums, school publicity materials, and Lagos State Government database of secondary schools

Transcription, coding and analysis of primary data

1 international workshop – ‘Homeland Education in Critical Global Perspective’ held

An overview of the dissemination of the results (qualitatively described above) is as follows:

4 single authored journal articles written (1 published, 3 in progress)

‘The best of both worlds’: Lagos private schools as engaged strategists of transnational child-raising, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

In progress:
Multiple Internationalisms: The Lagos private school sector and the diverse status-making projects of transnational Nigerians, Global Networks
‘‘Don’t make your parents suffer’: Protecting intergenerational migration aspirations through educational ‘return’ in the Nigerian diaspora’, Children’s Geographies
‘‘Here they are strict but they care’: Transnational education in the Nigerian diaspora and the geographies of ‘mattering’’, planning to submit to Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers or Geoforum

1 journal special issue commissioned and in progress (‘The Place of Aspirations: Young People’s Socio-Spatial Immobilities’, Children’s Geographies)
1 co-edited journal special issue proposal in preparation (‘‘Homeland’ Educational Mobilities and Transnational Classed Strategies, Mobilities)
1 short film (‘Until It is Spoken Back’, 10 mins) produced in collaboration with a young research participant and US and Nigerian creatives
1 practitioner report produced for Nigerian schools

1 international workshop – ‘Homeland Education in Critical Global Perspective’ held
6 presentations on the project given at conferences and seminars
3 further conferences attended
3 further conference presentations accepted but deferred
Results broadly match the aims laid out in the proposal, though in the following ways impact exceeded the expected results:

There were greater numbers of interviews conducted than laid out in the proposal, particularly in Lagos, Nigeria (59 vs 20).

More presentations about the project were accepted expected (9 vs 6), though 3 were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though not many have yet reached full publication, eventually the project is expected to produce 4 single-authored articles and 2 co-edited volumes, which exceeds the aims set out in the proposal (3 articles and 1 co-edited volume)

Though work needs to be done to promote the short film produced during this research, it is felt to be an exciting and engaging way to engage the public in the debates surrounding the research.
A Lagos Private School