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Title: Friends, corporate parents and pentecostal churches : unaccompanied asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo in London
Author: Wahlström, Asa Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 4617
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2010
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The thesis provides an ethnographic study of the experiences of lone asylum seekers who are provided local authority care in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The research builds on sixteen months’ ethnographic fieldwork between April 2006 and September 2007, examining how the young people adapted to their changing and adverse circumstances and how welfare institutions in the United Kingdom responded to their situations. The young refugees in this research created personal relations of patronage in bureaucratic organisations, quickly formed networks and obtained goods by non-formal routes. They created space for play and spiritual growth, and maintained a position of obliviousness towards much of the events and logistics involved in leaving the DRC and seeking asylum in Europe. It was through these activities that personal agency of the young people emerged. However, the young people were not occupying positions of power. Their ‘agency’ was restricted and confined within social and political structures imposed on them. I argue that the separation of welfare services to religious life was for research subjects an arbitrary distinction. They had come from a Christian fundamentalist (Pentecostal) interpretation of the world in Kinshasa. God and evil were seen as omnipresent and omnipotent, and a true Christian (mukristu ya solo, a Christian of the soul), must be vigilant and pray all the time to be at one with the divine power. The young Congolese viewed their lives within such a theological ‘model’ and fitted all other seemingly ‘competing’ discourses and practices within it. As the young people negotiated their new lives in a new country, they adopted their coping strategies in ways that helped them benefit from the English welfare system and the Pentecostal faith respectively.
Supervisor: Niehaus, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Lone refugee children ; Europe ; Welfare states ; Social services ; United Kingdom