In the second year of the MIMY project, our team in Malmö has mostly been busy conducting fieldwork. In MIMY, we carried out a high number of interviews and although pandemic restrictions in Sweden have been less severe than in many other countries, recruiting participants have been much harder than we hoped for. Still, we are grateful for all the things we have learned from interacting with our participants once we did find them. Here we share some reflections from our work process and present a few of our preliminary findings we hope to discuss in academic texts during the third and last year of MIMY. One of the most exciting things about this last year has been working with our peer researchers Ali Chihane and Nada Awes. Both are first year students at Malmö University but have nevertheless contributed with insightful reflections and suggestions that have impacted our shared understanding of the collected data. Their input as “insiders” into our scholarly production will continue to be very important. Additionally, they are also extremely likable and fun to hang out with and we look forward to travel to the IMISCOE conference together and present our work.
Apart from Ali and Nada, our research team consists of Christina Hansen and Jacob Lind, two researchers who both have gone through a PhD education in migration and urban studies at Malmö University, and Nadeen Khoury, who moved to Sweden from Jordan and have a master in Middle Eastern studies from Lund University. Nadeen’s contribution so far as a research assistant has also been invaluable as she has been able to carry out interviews in Arabic with young refugees from Syria. Christina and Jacob have interviewed unaccompanied youth (mainly from Afghanistan) and young people born in Sweden. Apart from this, Christina has (together with Nada and Ali) interviewed young migrants with experiences of public visibility in Sweden, commonly through their activism or fast career trajectories. Also, Jacob, with crucial support by the peer researchers as intergenerational culture brokers and facilitators, have conducted a number of focus groups across southern Sweden with migrants of varying ages and backgrounds.
Currently, our team is working on a number of papers: Together with Mona Hemmaty, project researcher in MIMY during spring 2021, we are re-examining the 28 stakeholder interviews we conducted together. The stakeholders’ understanding of the concept of “integration” vary vastly and they are more or less comfortable with using the concept. The concept is heavily politicized in Sweden and the stakeholders navigate this context in different ways in their daily work on a local level.
We are also working on a paper that explores the importance and meaning of friendship in our young participants’ lives. The focus of friendship could potentially be a way of de-migrantizing integration research by focusing on a topic that affects not just migrants but everyone, and potentially young people in particular who are in a formative phase in their lives as they enter early adulthood. Additionally, we are also working in conjunction with our MIMY colleagues around Europe on a paper concerning the peer research methodology. We also have plans to continue reflecting on, for example, the impact of legal status for young people, feelings of belonging of Syrian youth in Sweden, and how additional research on the situation of unaccompanied minors and youth could be framed in relation to the vast amount of literature that has been published on the subject in recent years in Sweden. Overall, we look forward to the intense work of thinking together in our last year as a MIMY-team.