Valentina Mazzucato delivered the seventh Sarah van Walsum lecture on October 7, 2021 at the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The Sarah van Walsum lecture is the annual opening of the Master’s program of International Migration and Refugee Law and commemorates our late colleague Sarah van Walsum. Valentina Mazzucato is professor of Globalisation and Development Technology & Society Studies at Maastricht University.
In her lecture ‘On categories: what we see and what we don’t see when categorising migrant youth’ Mazzucato discussed her research on youth with a migration background. She argued that especially large quantitative studies that tend to be most influential in affecting policy and laws on migrant youth, has been monolithic in the categories used. Studies on ‘migrant youth’ typically use categories based on ethnicity and generation. Yet such categorizations hide the physical mobility that many migrant background youth engage in. Transnational migration and mobility studies argue that such trips are important for youth’s sense of identity and feelings of belonging, yet such studies are small in scale, usually based on long-term recall, and have had little influence on the way that youth with a migration background are studied and data on them are collected in large-scale studies.
Mazzucato reflected on categories in migrant youth research and how this has shaped the production of knowledge. She offered some possible alternatives based on the integrated findings from the Mobility Trajectories of Young Lives: Transnational Youth in Global South and North project (www.motrayl.com).