This research examines the ways in which young people in diaspora learn to be, and are potentially, politicised. It explores the factors influencing this process, the times and spaces in which this occurs, and what this means in terms of their identity negotiations and perceptions and realities of belonging, inclusion and political action in relation to their host location, their migrant groups, their homelands and the transnational linkages which connect them. An in-depth, comparative qualitative approach is taking place, using young people aged 11-25 years old of Palestinian, Jewish and Greek origin resident in the UK.
Research has shown that those in diaspora negotiate complex, multiple, political, social and cultural identities (Christou and Mavroudi 2015) within and across borders, which may be strong and based firmly around connections with one another and their homeland, but which can also be ambivalent, and result in feelings of disempowerment (Mavroudi 2008). They may feel torn between here and there, past, present and future, and concerned about issues such as strategic (and potentially extreme) nation-building, identity and survival, political and economic development, mobilisation or conflicts in the homeland and so forth (Mavroudi 2017; Sheffer 2003). The focus on diaspora emphasises that there are specific ways migration is experienced through time and space: these include shared group consciousness and identity, strong links to one another and to a homeland, and a wish to be involved in the affairs of, and potentially return to a homeland, all of which may be politicised and in/exclusionary. The question that remains much less examined is how these issues resonate with young people with a diasporic background, and become intertwined with how they construct their identities, belonging and politics. More research is needed which focuses explicitly on experiences and perceptions of children from a migrant, and especially transnational and diasporic background, particularly as potential political actors, who may be empowered or disempowered as a result of their lives, and background and whose voices may be sidelined in adult articulations, practices and performances of politics. It is these issues which this research addresses.
The research connects studies on children’s politics with diaspora studies and the geographies of diaspora, paying particular attention to the places, times and spaces where young people may become politicised and, in turn, politically active. This is important in an age of increasingly diversity and migration (Mavroudi and Nagel 2016) where young migrants and their peers have an important role to play in shaping future multi-ethnic and religious relations and interactions. Exploring how they perceive and promote visions of identity, belonging and political mobilisation and the reasons behind this, form part of this crucial process.