''The ageless'' - Age-disputed unaccompanied minor asylum seekers - caught between constructions of childhood and adulthood
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Age-disputed unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (UMAs) are a group of undocumented young people who have received increased attention both in the media and by scholars during the last decade. Due to heightening numbers of UMAs seeking asylum throughout Europe, governments have increased their use of age assessments to establish UMAs unknown age so that they receive accurate treatment, rights, and care. Norway makes use of medical and nonmedical age assessments, often based on x-rays of the carpus, teeth, and visual assessments conducted by professionals, to find UMAs’ approximate age. This thesis explores how relevant actors connected to the Norwegian asylum field understand and construct UMAs and their unknown age. It considers how hegemonic understandings of age becomes determining in situating UMAs within or outside childhood. Moreover, the thesis scrutinizes how prevalent discourses connected to UMAs becomes relevant regarding UMAs access to legal rights. As age assessment is a particularly contested practice, gaining knowledge about the rationale behind how and why UMAs are perceived as they are, become pertinent. Drawing on the findings from this study, UMAs are constructed on the basis of constructed knowledge stemming from the global North. Moreover, UMAs voices are rarely taken into consideration when their age is disputed. Thus, their opportunity to participate in matters concerning themselves becomes absent.