Blaming the parents or blaming "the system"? Education and parenting in the limbo of the European asylum system

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalAbstractResearchpeer-review


In Denmark, the issue of children living under difficult circumstances in the deportation centres Sjælsmark and Avnstrup has recently been the topic of moral outrage and heated public debates. Political views range from left-leaning and activist voices who hold that placing children in such living conditions constitutes a violation of basic human rights – to the right wing view that the parents are to blame for their children’s predicament, since it is their duty to leave the country. How can parents maintain their role as parents in a situation where their sense of agency is largely restricted by bureaucratic procedures? Based on ethnographic fieldwork among families of rejected asylum seekers, this paper focuses on what it is like to be a parent under such circumstances. The paper accounts for the parents’ experiences, which shift between hope and loss of hope - and it argues that children have an all-important role for many rejected asylum seekers in Europe, since they embody a future in an imagined utopian elsewhere (Bloch 1986).
References:1.Bloch, E. (1986). The Principle of Hope. Translated by Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.2.Vitus, K. and S.S. Nielsen (2011) Asylbørn: En barndom i undtagelsestilstand. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzel
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventParent Engagement as Power: Empowering Children, Schools and Societies - Gdansk, Poland
Duration: 18 Sept 201920 Sept 2019


ConferenceParent Engagement as Power


  • daycare institutions
  • ethics
  • growing up
  • childhood
  • asylum system
  • upbringing
  • parenting


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