Between town and country: Shifting identity and migrant youth in Uganda

Caroline Barratt, Martin Mbonye, Janet Seeley

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19 Citations (Scopus)


In Uganda, as in many other African countries, increasing numbers of 15–24 year olds are migrating to urban areas to look for work and educational opportunities. We explore the shifting sense of identity amongst youth migrants in Uganda as they struggle to reconcile the differences in social norms between the rural settings in which they are brought up and the urban environment in which they now live. The experience of migration significantly impacts on the transition from youths to adults by influencing their perception of their own identity as well as the expectations of society. Young people often hold conflicting views of their rural and urban experiences, suggesting that understanding rural and urban realities as distinct entities does not reflect the complex relationship, and possible confusion, of the migrant experience. In contrast to existing literature on migrant identities, which has tended to focus on the identity shift experienced by adult transnational migrants, this reveals the particular challenges faced by youth migrants whose adult self is not yet formed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-223
Number of pages23
JournalThe Journal of Modern African Studies
Issue number02
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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