Informal child migration in Europe (completed)

About the project

In this project we investigate how informal networks of care constitute a social and cultural potential for children and adult caretakers who are involved, temporarily or permanently, in informal and illegal migration within and into Europe.

The project will involve research in five Western European countries (Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Italy), two Eastern European countries (Moldova and Ukraine), two African countries (Angola and Cape Verde) and one country in Latin America (Ecuador).

 The research is organized around three areas of investigation, focusing on:

  • The social models of family and kinship that exist as integrated parts of arrangements and practices of marginal populations currently living in Europe. We will study the tensions between these practices and policy discourses and implementations which emphasize a biogenetic logic of kinship, the nuclear family, individual rights and citizenship.
  • The gendered experiences of social belonging and mutual dependencies related to women and men´s caring work in informal kinship networks. We will explore the tendency within public bodies to render invisible the social relations constituting this kind of caring work.
  • People´s access to knowledge through their informal transnational networks which help them to manage their marginal situation. We will investigate the mechanisms of social marginalization by looking at the restricted access people have to specialized knowledge about the conditions of governance which influence and frame their lives.


A main scientific objective of the N-ICME project is to produce new knowledge about the changing conditions of informal practices and transnational networks of care, including such practices as child sifting, guardianship and apprenticeship, as they enter into new contexts of European governance.


  • Each participant in the project has designed and will carry out an individual sub-project. The titles of these are:

    • Transnational informal child migration in Norway: Dilemmas in international and national regulations on family life and citizenship. Researcher: Dr. Hilde Lidén, The Institute of Social research, ISF.
    • Little Migrants: A study of transnational informal child migration from Moldova. Researchers: Dr. Lise Bjerkan and Guri Tyldum, FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies.
    • Children`s mobility and immobility in Cape Verdean transnational family networks. Researcher: Jørgen Carling, International Peace Research Insititute, PRIO.
    • Women who migrate - children who are left behind: Moldovan children in informal networks of care. Researcher: Professor Elisabeth L´orange Fürst, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.
    • The impact of national policies on child care arrangements: The case of Ukrainian immigrants in Spain. Researcher: Phd student Alexander Tymczuk, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.
    • The transnational networks of care of Angolan children in Portugal. Researcher: Cecilie Øien, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.
    • Artefacts of migrant lives: The moral economy of Ecuadorian family reunifications in Spain. Researcher: Dr. Esben Leifsen, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.


The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council.


The project brings together experts from four institutions in Oslo: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo; The Institute of Social research, ISF; FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies; and International Peace Research Insititute, PRIO.


The project employs two different methodological approaches to the research on migration, children, transnational care networks and the formality - informality complex: 1) Through the main actors themselves - the children, their female and male caretakers - employing multi-sited field-based research, and 2) through governance institutions, actors and knowledge producers and products which in variegating ways regulate informal child migration and social existence - employing different qualitative and quantitative strategies for data production

Published Sep. 10, 2010 3:11 PM - Last modified June 11, 2013 1:30 PM