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Portrait of Simon Turner. Photo: Emma Lord.

Simon Turner


Portrait of Simon Turner. Photo: Emma Lord.

Pursuing futures through children: Crisis, social reproduction and transformation in Burundi’s transnational families


  • Lidewyde Huberta Berckmoes
  • Simon Turner

Summary, in English

Based on multisited fieldwork in Kigali, Rwanda, Belgium, and the Netherlands following the political crisis in Burundi in 2015, we explore decisions and plans for the future among Burundians in exile. In this way, we contribute to research about future making and social reproduction in families in a transnational social field affected by crisis. Adding to the literature, we show the specific effects of crisis on transnational families’ practices and aspirations, such as parental efforts to prevent traumatic world views and the constant need for families to readjust their plans to ongoing crisis dynamics. We argue that as the violence has disrupted the migrant parents’ hopes for a better future for themselves, they redirect their efforts towards their children’s futures. We thus argue that not only future making practices but also aspirations should be seen as social and relational, particularly in times of crisis. In particular, the Burundians living in Rwanda, Belgium and the Netherlands seek to provide their offspring with the skills to become educated, social and moral beings, even it entails sacrificing their own lives and aspirations. Moreover, adding to debates on migrants’ efforts to reproduce their own cultural values and practices in host societies, we find that the Burundian parents attempt to change what they perceive as a ‘culture of hatred and vengeance’ with parenting practices. As such, we argue that many migrant parents explicitly pursue social transformation through their children.

Publishing year







Migration Studies





Document type

Journal article


Oxford University Press


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary




  • ISSN: 2049-5846