The Global Horizon

The Global Horizon: Expectations of Migration in Africa and the Middle East

Knut Graw
Samuli Schielke
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 200
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Global Horizon
    Book Description:

    Although contemporary migration in and from Africa can be understood as a continuation of earlier forms of interregional and international migration, current processes of migration seem to have taken on a new quality. This volume argues that one of the main reasons for this is the fact that local worlds are increasingly measured against a set of possibilities whose referents are global, not local. Due to this globalization of the personal and societal horizons of possibilities in Africa and elsewhere, in many contexts migration gains an almost inevitable attraction while, at the same time, actual migration becomes increasingly restricted. Based on detailed ethnographic accounts, the contributors to this volume focus on the imaginations, expectations, and motivations that propel the pursuit of migration. Decentring the focus of much of migration studies on the ‘receiving societies', the volume foregrounds the subjective aspect of migration and explores the impact which the imagination and practice of migration have on the sociocultural conditions of the various local settings concerned.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-125-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction: Reflections on migratory expectations in Africa and beyond
    (pp. 7-22)
    Knut Graw and Samuli Schielke

    In recent years, the topic of migration has come closer and closer to the forefront of public awareness and concern. Issues of labour movement, asylum procedures, border controls, and the ‘integration’ of new ethnic and religious minorities make headlines in the wealthier (post-)industrial nations, while the issue of ‘illegal migration’ and the complex dependencies involved in remittances and transnational families are constantly on the agenda in poorer countries. In academia the study of migration has become a social scientific discipline of its own, with exponential amounts of literature being published and specialized conferences being held around the world. In short,...

  4. Why migrate?

    • On the cause of migration: Being and nothingness in the African-European border zone
      (pp. 23-42)
      Knut Graw

      Few topics dealt with in the social, political and economic sciences have received as much academic and public attention in recent years as the topic of migration. Research centres and networks, conferences, journals, books, research and policy reports, news features, documentaries, as well as artistic projects dealing with the topic of migration, have multiplied with great speed and, given corresponding processes on the ground, this is unlikely to change soon. Already due to its sheer size, to characterize in a few lines a field as vast, complex and multidisciplinary as this is thus problematic, and bound to provoke the criticism...

    • Bushfalling: The making of migratory expectations in Anglophone Cameroon
      (pp. 43-58)
      Maybritt Jill Alpes

      For an entire year, my 25-year-old research assistant Delphine refused to take her salary because she wanted to save it up to be able to travel.² She was determined to add to her salary money she received from boyfriends, ex-boyfriends and family members in order to travel out of the country. She wanted to study in either South Africa or Europe. Based on what she had heard from others abroad, she planned to study and hustle. Hustling in Cameroon means to try and be ready to do any kind of work.³

      The topic of out-migration is imminently present in Cameroon...

  5. Departures and non-departures

    • City on the move: How urban dwellers in Central Africa manage the siren’s call of migration
      (pp. 59-86)
      Filip De Boeck

      Over the last three decades Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has grown into a megalopolis of more than 8 million people. And yet, this mega-city, which was once heralded as an international pinnacle of colonialist modernity, and which is Sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest city today, is often perceived as a place of distance and ‘remoteness’ (Piot 1999), a local ‘shadow city’ (Neuwirth 2006), ‘off the map’ of the global cityscape, under the radar of formal modes of globalization, and seemingly disconnected from the rest of the world. At best, Kinshasa often seems to exist only as...

    • Spaces in movement: Town–village interconnections in West Africa
      (pp. 87-104)
      Denise Dias Barros

      Mobility in Africa is a field of study facilitating the interpretation of interconnection established through the action of people, groups and societies on the African continent. This field provides new leads both on the ties that have existed between women and men, between generations and between different age groups throughout history, and on social change in contemporary Africa. It also enables the controversy surrounding opposition between individuals and states, states and societies, individuals and communities, urban and rural life, town and village to be reconsidered. Authors such as De Bruijn, Van Dijk and Foeken (2001) from the African Studies Centre...

    • Migration, identity and immobility in a Malian Soninke village
      (pp. 105-120)
      Gunvor Jónsson

      This chapter explores the local meaning of migration and experiences of immobility in a Soninke village in the Kayes region of Mali. In the village of Kounda, migration has for centuries been central to villagers’ livelihoods. Household heads have a long tradition of working as labour migrants in France and through a regular flow of remittances and communication they have retained strong bonds with their families in Kounda. Meanwhile, many of the young Soninke men living in Kounda are expressing a sense of ‘involuntary immobility’, aspiring to migrate, but unable to do so (cf. Carling 2002). This chapter examines the...

    • “God’s time is the best”: Religious imagination and the wait for emigration in The Gambia
      (pp. 121-136)
      Paolo Gaibazzi

      Following the boom in undocumented boat migration to the Canary Islands (2006-9), Sub-Saharan African youth have received a lot of public attention. Most local and European media have featured dramatized stories of shipwrecks, rescue operations on the high seas and arrivals of exhausted young men on the islands. Journalists eventually made the opposite journey, seeking to report on the reasons for such a hazardous undertaking in countries of origin. A market for vivid stories of young men emerged. For instance, Emmanuelle Bouilly has mentioned that theCollectif pour la lutte contre l’immigration clandestine de Thiaroye-sur-Mer(a group of women fighting...

  6. Horizons in the making

    • The Eiffel Tower and the eye: Actualizing modernity between Paris and Ghana
      (pp. 137-154)
      Ann Cassiman

      In mainstream development ideologies, a great deal of attention is paid to the evolution promised by the passage from past to future, from ‘tradition’ to the ‘modern’, or from rural to urban, oral to written, gift to commodity. As already noted by Mudimbe (1988:4) and many others since (Comaroff & Comaroff 1993, Miller 1995, Piot 1999, Ferguson 1999), this presupposed jump from one pole to the other is in fact misleading. In this chapter, which deals with rural life among the Kasena in Northern Ghana, I will illustrate how the two temporalities inherent in the paradigms of tradition and modernity do...

    • Literacy, locality, and mobility: Writing practices and ‘cultural extraversion’ in rural Mali
      (pp. 155-174)
      Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye

      Global cultural flows and their local appropriations have come to attract a growing interest in anthropology, and Africa counts as one of the areas where such approaches have been widely developed.¹ At the same time, the issue of migration has been brought dramatically to the foreground, both as a political matter and as something that fuels local discourses and imaginations, be it in the form of actual practices of mobility or of constrained ‘immobility’. How do these two lines of investigation intersect? A common view of migration easily attributes the motivation for migrating to a fascination (a ‘mirage’) with the...

    • Engaging the world on the Alexandria waterfront
      (pp. 175-192)
      Samuli Schielke

      Mukhtar Shehata, a frustrated and underpaid teacher in an informal area in the east of Alexandria, lives just a block inland from the Abu Qir suburban train line which divides the up-market seaside from the ‘popular’ (sha‘bi) inland of the city. Unlike in Cairo where upmarket districts are increasingly physically apart from the rest of the city, many of Alexandria’s upmarket districts are in everybody’s reach due to the double role of the seafront Corniche Road as a main area for middle class outings (the true elites are drawn to the more exclusive resorts east and west of the city)...

  7. Afterword
    (pp. 193-199)
    Michael Jackson

    Throughout the 1990s, anthropological studies of migration were largely assimilated to the study of processes of globalization, emphasizing ‘transnational social fields’ and social networks based on new technologies of international communication, new forms of social mobility, economic opportunity, and fluid or hybrid identities. As Knut Graw and Samuli Schielke note, this perspective reflected the public preoccupations, governmental policies, and media-driven discourse of the receiving countries, and usually left the lived experiences of migrants unexplored.The Global Horizonmarks the coming of age of a paradigm that Sarah Mahler calls ‘transnationalism from below’ (Mahler 1998), focused on the personal expectations, moral...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 200-200)