Imagination, Hope and the Migrant Journey: Iraqi Asylum Seekers Looking for a Future in Europe

Saara Koikkalainen, David Kyle, Tapio Nykänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Europe received an unprecedented number of asylum seekers in 2015. This article examines Iraqi asylum seekers who journeyed through Europe in search of an idealized version of Finland, which they had imagined based on word-of-mouth and social media information. Through cognitive migration, the act of pre-experiencing futures in different locations, Finland was seen to offer both subjective hope of personal growth and advancement and objective hope of safety and physical security. This hope motivated them to embark on a journey of
6,000 kilometers to the European North. Based on interview data and relevant studies, the article concludes that hope of a better, imagined future abroad acts as a powerful magnet for persons with poor prospects in their countries of origin. Hope is a kind of critical emotion strongly shaped by beliefs and real-time opportunities; and as such, beliefs are notoriously difficult to change. Imagination, therefore, should not be overlooked when planning and implementing migration policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalInternational Migration
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2019
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • asylum seekers
  • Europe
  • Iraq
  • refugee crisis
  • Finland

Field of science

  • Sociology


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