Contrary to popular media tropes of the ‘young, lone, male refugee’ arriving at Europe’s borders, Greece has in fact seen a steady flow of female refugees arriving since 2015. Most newcomers come in family groups, and many, including teenage girls, are mothers – many of whom aspire to continue (or begin) their schooling. While access to formal education has increased since 2016, still less than half of all young refugees enrol in post-compulsory education – and among those who do, drop-out is swift and common. However, many engage in alternatives which may better fit their life projects and family responsibilities (as either child or mother). This paper explores how motherhood is implicated in this educational decision-making process and its wider role in imagining and constructing pathways towards their futures. It is based on findings from a doctoral project which explores how young refugees – many of whom have arrived in Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey – now find themselves in a precarious socio-political ‘seascape’ which they are forced to navigate. The paper thus draws from Vigh’s (2009) concept of ‘social navigation’ and ethnographic fieldwork in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece to address the influence of motherhood on (achieving) educational goals, while also making the case for including the ‘spatial’ in educational research; or how (young) refugee mothers carve out their own educational spaces in the city as an important expression of agency.

ISBN: 9781666902051