22/05/2024 – Migration Seminar: Times of Uncertainty and Future Projections for Forced Migrants – The Case of Syrian Refugee Teenagers in Canada

Times of Uncertainty and Future Projections for Forced Migrants: The Case of Syrian Refugee Teenagers in Canada

Dr. Laila Omar,

How do Syrian refugee teenagers settling in Canada imagine their futures in this new context? And what do their temporal experiences tell us about their integration process? This paper interrogates the importance of age and life stage at the time of migration for imaginations of the future after resettlement in the host country by examining Syrian refugee teenagers’ experiences. Drawing on extensive qualitative data from in-depth interviews and observations, Dr. Omar examines how Syrian refugee teenagers experience time and uncertainty, and conceptualize their futures, after resettlement in Canada. Her doctoral research contributes to an emergent stream in the migration literature focusing on temporality as a distinct phenomenon of the migratory process.

In this paper, Dr. Omar discusses two main trajectories for teenagers of older age who arrived in Canada at different times. Teenagers who arrived as children as part of the first waves of 2016 were able to overcome some challenges as they adapted to the Canadian context. Therefore, they are able to embrace a “slow present” where they live day by day and are able to plan and dream for the future. This is opposed to teenagers who resettled in Canada at an older age as they approached adulthood. These teenagers experience a “tense present,” where they simultaneously feel held back by the system in place in the host country and wanting to speed forward to make any kind of progress as newcomers. These two trajectories have meaningful consequences for each group when it comes to imagining their futures. This work illuminates broader phenomena related to considerations about time and the future, and how those play a role in shaping refugees’ identity- formation and integration processes in the host country.

About the speaker
Dr. Laila Omar is a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Fung Global Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS), Princeton University. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2023. Her research interests lie within the fields of forced displacement, immigrant and refugee integration, gender, and qualitative research methods. More specifically, she is interested in issues related to the integration process of refugees from/to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Her thesis, “Times of Uncertainty and Future Projections for Forced Migrants: The Case of Syrian Refugee Mothers and Youths in Canada,” examines the temporal experiences and future projections of Syrian refugee mothers and teenagers after their resettlement in Canada. Her research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and appeared in journals such as the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism.

Venue: https://maastrichtuniversity.zoom.us/j/88993866041
Date: 22 May 2024
Time: 15:00 – 16:00  CEST

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