Research Seminar – Jessica Ball

March 02, 2016
03:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Sedgewick C168

Forced Migrant Children’s Identity Development and Agency in Resettlement Decision-Making 

Liminal Life on the Myanmar-Thailand Border

Presentation by Dr. Jessica Ball
(CYC and CAPI’s Migration and Mobility Program)

While migration and refugee studies have elaborated upon themes of voice, subjectivity, and agency of mobile adults, the voice and subjectivity of forced migrant children have been comparatively neglected. Decades of armed conflict and economic collapse in Myanmar resulted in millions of forced migrants living in neighbouring Thailand, China, and Malaysia. This research seminar focuses on forced migrant youth from Myanmar who have grown up as temporary residents or refugees along the northwest border of Thailand. They are often stateless and disconnected from their families, communities, and cultures of origin and excluded from the formal economy and institutional affiliations, living perched on the edge of society in a liminal state. The seminar invites discussion of prospective research exploring how forced migrant youth are both vulnerable and resilient, both victims and agents, and carriers of both their cultures of origin and of globalization. This research has the potential to challenge foundational theories of child development regarding necessary conditions for thriving, and to gather evidence about children’s capacity to contribute meaningfully to decision-making about their repatriation or resettlement.

About Jessica Ball

Jessica Ball, M.P.H., Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Canada. She has a PhD in clinical-development psychology and a Masters degree in Public Health. She has published, taught, lectured and conducted research extensively in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific. She is known internationally for her work to promote equitable opportunities for education and wellness among ethnic minority and Indigenous children, and children whose families are involved in transnational migration ( She is best known in Canada for her inaugural work on cultural safety in developmental assessment and early childhood services for First Nations children, her research on Indigenous men’s transitions to fatherhood, and her research on First Nations children’s language development. Among many awards, Jessica has been acknowledged for her research, teaching and service that has contributed to the well-being of Indigenous children and families in Canada and internationally.

About the event series

CAPI Research Seminars highlight the work of our Chairs and Associates and foster a collaborative research community. These seminars are intended for interested faculty, graduate students and researchers. Seating is limited.

Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives