What do we exactly mean when we refer to ‘home’? How does the meaning of home change after one migrates? These questions were the focus of a recent project conducted at University College Cork, Ireland, titled, Youth Home. The study was an exploration of the meaning of ‘home’ among young male migrant men living in Cork city. Two groups of migrants took part in the project: The first group were refugee men (with refugee status) who had received their documentations to stay in Ireland after their asylum application had been accepted. The second group were international students from countries outside the European Union and European Economic Areas. Migrant men are consistently overrepresented in political debates about migration, but their experiences are greatly missing from policies and studies on belonging and home. One important reason for this is the presupposition of migrant men as ‘one-dimensional’ who are very often perceived as a ‘threat’ to the fabric of the European societies.
As such, attending to how young migrants experience migration, the processes of making a home and the sense of temporariness and precarity in a European country needs further attention and elaboration. In Youth Home, we aimed to provide an understanding of what concepts such as integration, feeling at home, and sense of belonging mean to young male migrants (below the age of 35). The project, located in the second largest city in Ireland, was composed of an in-depth ethnography composed of several steps to ‘co-produce’ the data with the participants.
As the aim of this project was to understand how home translates into public and private spheres for migrants, each participant was interviewed at least twice. The first interview was a walking interview in Cork city. The participant led the walk and took the researcher to places where they felt at home or thought about home in the city. These places were photographed by the participant and the researcher. The aim of this method was to understand how Cork City is experienced from the migrant’s perspective. The second method was photography of domestic spaces. All participants were asked to take photos of their domestic spaces and send these photos to the researcher prior to the second interview. They were asked to focus on domestic spaces where they live and to take photos of 1. objects, 2. practices and activities, and 3. memories of home. Finally, they were interviewed again to discuss the photos they took from their domestic spaces. These interviews were led by the images and the components of each photo were elaborated by the participant. Some participants were interviewed more than twice.
This project was funded by the Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship Horizon 2020, European Commission. Grant Number MSCIF 843333.
The fieldwork for this project consisted of several stages. Stage one was a short preliminary interview. The second encounter was a walking interview in Cork city.
Link: Cork Walking Interviews
Dr Mastoureh Fathi
Role: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
Mastoureh’s research is primarily on the notion of home and belonging in migration pathways of migrant women and men. She is Co-PI on Youth Home.
Dr Caitriona Ni Laoire
Role: Youth Home supervisor
Caitriona has done extensive research on return migration, identity and belonging of young migrants
and migrant children. She is Co-PI on Youth Home.
Dr Jacquie O’Riodan
Role: Youth Home Advisory Team
Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí
Role: Youth Home Advisory Team
Role: Research Assistant