Young, unauthorised and Black: African unaccompanied minors and becoming an adult in Italy

Gunaratnam, Yasmin and Walker, Sarah. 2021. Young, unauthorised and Black: African unaccompanied minors and becoming an adult in Italy. Journal of Sociology, 57(3), pp. 690-706. ISSN 1440-7833 [Article]

Gunaratnam, Y. (2021) Young, unauthorised and Black_AAM.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork in an Italian reception centre for male ‘unaccompanied minors’. Drawing on the concepts of ‘hostipitality’ (Derrida), the Black Mediterranean, and ‘intimate citizenship’ (Plummer), we examine the political ambivalence of hospitality for young African men as they transition to adulthood and how this is experienced through the intersections of age, gender and race. The biographical transition to adulthood thus offers a unique empirical opportunity to examine the extent of hospitality, as the (uninvited) Black child guest crosses the threshold into being an unwanted, potentially deportable, ‘invader’. Drawing from the young men’s images (art and photographs) and narratives, we discuss their experiences of differential anti-Blackness during their migration journeys and how hegemonic notions of masculinity circumscribe the quest for legal citizenship and the meaning of adulthood. While capitulation to gender normativity bolsters claims to citizenship, racism is a continuing and profound threat to ontological security.

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intimate citizenship, masculinity, migration, racism, temporality, unaccompanied minors

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18 January 2021Accepted
2 March 2021Published Online
September 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2021 10:42

Last Modified:

25 Aug 2021 03:52

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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