Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Courtenay Sprague

Second Advisor

Craig Murphy

Third Advisor

Teri Aronowitz


The migration of youth (aged 15-36) globally has garnered significant attention in both the gray and academic literatures in recent years, with much of this work has focused on so called North-North or South-North migration. Yet South-to-South youth migration is only beginning to gain attention in these same circles, even as a 2013 UN estimate found that just over half (60%) of all youth migrants globally were living in the Global South. Africa is home to a large population of youth, with two out of three people on the continent under the age of 25. This makes youth migrants on the continent an important and potentially overlooked population who could contribute meaningfully to Africa’s future. While the lived experiences of youth migrants in Africa are not well represented in the gray or academic literatures, even less is known about their experiences of health, well-being, and illness. As migration is widely considered a social determinant of health, understanding the process through which their migration contributes to “the full set of social conditions” that can cause ill health (Solar & Irwin 2010) is an initial, exploratory step in filling these gaps in understanding. Based on three years of intermittent field work in Johannesburg, South Africa, this study used qualitative research methods drawn from grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss 1967) to examine the lived experiences of youth, cross-border migrants living in the city, focusing on their migration story, experiences navigating Johannesburg, and access to basic, material needs and services. Findings reveal the centrality of citizenship, youth identity, and administrative barriers in access to material needs and services. Yet despite these difficulties, participants expressed feelings of agency over their individual health and ability to build their lives.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.