32 / 2010
Marjan Drnovšek, Kristina Toplak


The filsrouge of this thematic issue is migrations and children’s involvement in them, from all aspects and using theoretical and methodological approaches from various areas of the humanities and social sciences. In comparison with adults, children are a relatively unnoticed part of mobile populations. We cannot extract them from the family and the broader context, and definitions of when we are talking about children and/or youths are unclear. The line is hard to determine. They are more likely to be parts of unseen rather than noticeable events in the migration process. They are undoubtedly a part of the family environment, except in cases of forced migration, e.g. during wartime, when they become separated from their parents (Gombač 2005). Childhood is therefore relatively difficult to pin down. It is true that the world of adults prevails, and that children and youths are subordinated to the vicissitudes of the broader and not least the family environment. Particularly when they migrate abroad their lives, development and integration into the new environment is more difficult, since they face numerous obstacles, from unfamiliarity with the language in the immigrant environment to new foods, inclusion in various school systems etc. On the other hand we have to emphasize the positive aspects of their lives in immigrant environments, which include the learning of numerous languages, as they lived in many different countries and ethnic areas. They also had an advantage in education, as long as their parents encouraged them, which was dependent on their education and their desire to climb the social ladder. In Europe and overseas, e.g. in the United States of America, they had better living conditions, enjoyed the benefits of a high standard of living, but on the other hand had to work hard from an early age. There were problems for children and youths when families fell apart and were scattered over various parts of the world. This separation, particularly in early childhood, when they could not hide behind their parents’ skirts, gave many of them a feeling of being unwanted and different, while many children grew up in extended families and were passed from hand to hand. At least the male part if the emigrants worked from morning to night, while the mothers raised and cared for the children. In the case of seasonal work the mothers left their children at home with relatives. The majority of the children and youths abroad grew up in the streets, and received their formal education in church or school. This is particularly true of the early days of Slovenian migration, e.g. during the period of mass emigration to the United States of America and later in the 20th century.