Life in Ghorbat – ”Illegality” among Separated Afghan Children in Greece

Didde Bjørn

Studenteropgave: Speciale


In a world in which the borders of nation-states have come to form the ‘natural order of things’, millions of people who cross these very borders are classified as “illegal” migrants. Among these “illegal” migrants are separated Afghan children who travel through precarious routes in search for a better future in Europe. Although we see an increase in the number separated Afghan children, there is a lack of knowledge about them in the existing research on international migration. In particular research that has explicitly explored the experiences of children from the children’s own perspectives seems to be missing. Therefore, in order to strengthen the limited knowledge on separated Afghan children, this thesis adopts a child perspective approach to investigate how “illegality” is experienced by a group of separated Afghan children in Greece - a country in which the children’s position as “illegal” migrants weights higher than their position as children. Through ethnographic fieldwork in Greece and with a theoretical point of departure in the ontological notions of Giorgio Agamben, I show that the condition of “illegality” leaves the children in a position of ‘inclusive exclusion’ - they are included as objects of sovereign power but at the same time excluded from the ‘right to have rights’. Consequently, the everyday life of the children is strongly rendered by poverty, police violence, detention and racist attacks. Through theoretical perspectives of Sarah Willen and Susan Coutin I further show that the condition of “illegality” has a strong impact on the children in three domains: first, on their sense of embodiment; second, on their experience of space; and third, on their experience of time. Moreover, employing James Scott’s notion of ‘weapons of the weak’ as ‘everyday forms of resistance’, I analyse how the children deploy various strategies to overcome the enormous challenges and obstacles that they are faced with qua their “illegal” position. On the basis of my ethnographical findings I conclude that the condition of “illegality” has a profound affect on the children’s experiences of everyday life in Greece. They are able to challenge and resist “illegality”, but their resistance are not geared towards transformative actions aimed at durable enhancements of their lives.

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) KandidatInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato9 mar. 2014
VejledereHelle Stenum


  • migration, children, Greece, "illegality"