a1 School of Health and Human Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom
a2 MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, PO Box 49, Entebbe, Uganda
a3 School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK, MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS, Entebbe, Uganda and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom
In Uganda, as in many other African countries, increasing numbers of 15–24 year olds are migrating to urban areas to look for work and educational opportunities. We explore the shifting sense of identity amongst youth migrants in Uganda as they struggle to reconcile the differences in social norms between the rural settings in which they are brought up and the urban environment in which they now live. The experience of migration significantly impacts on the transition from youths to adults by influencing their perception of their own identity as well as the expectations of society. Young people often hold conflicting views of their rural and urban experiences, suggesting that understanding rural and urban realities as distinct entities does not reflect the complex relationship, and possible confusion, of the migrant experience. In contrast to existing literature on migrant identities, which has tended to focus on the identity shift experienced by adult transnational migrants, this reveals the particular challenges faced by youth migrants whose adult self is not yet formed.
* We are grateful to Dr Brent Wolff, who set up and led the larger study from which the data for this paper have been extracted. We thank the Medical Research Council (UK) for funding the study, the interviewers for their work in collecting and translating the data, and the participants for giving the team their time and information. We are grateful to Dr Catherine Locke for her very insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper. We acknowledge our reviewers, whose very insightful comments helped to develop the framing and debate within this paper.