Changing relationships to the country of origin through transnational mobility: migrant youth's visits to Ghana

Laura J. Ogden*, Valentina Mazzucato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper explores how physical mobility shapes migrant youth's changing relationships to their or their parents' country of origin. Increasing numbers of youth in the Global North have a migration background and are transnationally engaged in virtual, imaginative and material mobilities. Yet our knowledge of their physical mobility is lacking, having largely been based on retrospective accounts from the country of residence, resulting in depictions of static relationships to a monolithic country of origin. This study takes a processual approach, focusing on mobility trajectories and exploring the sensorial, embodied and emotional aspects of physical mobility as it unfolds. Drawing on 14 months of mobile ethnographic fieldwork with 20 Ghanaian-background young people (aged 15-25) living in Hamburg, Germany, we focus on visits to Ghana to explore how physical mobility changes relationships to the country of origin over time (across several visits) and space (between different places within one visit). We use Urry's typology of proximity to analyse the specific and changing constellations of people, places and moments that constitute visits and thus shape these relationships. We also reflect on the methodological implications of using three mobile methods: mobility trajectory mapping, following mobility in real-time, and before-and-after interviewing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-414
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Early online dateJun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Transnational youth mobility
  • migrant youth
  • second-generation returns
  • mobile methods
  • home visits
  • Germany
  • Ghana

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