1st Edition

Hope and Uncertainty in Contemporary African Migration

Edited By Nauja Kleist, Dorte Thorsen Copyright 2017
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume examines the relationship between hope, mobility, and immobility in African migration. Through case studies set within and beyond the continent, it demonstrates that hope offers a unique prism for analyzing the social imaginaries and aspirations which underpin migration in situations of uncertainty, deepening inequality, and delimited access to global circuits of legal mobility.

    The volume takes departure in a mobility paradox that characterizes contemporary migration. Whereas people all over the world are exposed to widening sets of meaning of the good life elsewhere, an increasing number of people in the Global South have little or no access to authorized modes of international migration. This book examines how African migrants respond to this situation. Focusing on hope, it explores migrants’ temporal and spatial horizons of expectation and possibility and how these horizons link to mobility practices. Such analysis is pertinent as precarious life conditions and increasingly restrictive regimes of mobility characterize the lives of many Africans, while migration continues to constitute important livelihood strategies and to be seen as pathways of improvement. Whereas involuntary immobility is one consequence, another is the emergence and consolidation of new destinations emerging in the Global South. The volume examines this development through empirically grounded and theoretically rich case studies in migrants’ countries of origin, zones of transit, and in new and established destinations in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Latin America and China. It thereby offers an original perspective on linkages between migration, hope, and immobility, ranging from migration aspirations to return.

    1 Introduction: Studying Hope and Uncertainty in African Migration Nauja Kleist

    2 How to Extract Hope from Papers? Classificatory Performances and Social Networking in Cape Verdean Visa Applications Heike Drotbohm

    3 Sticking to God: Brokers of Hope in Senegalese Migration to Argentina Ida Marie Vammen

    4 Zouglou Music and Youth in Urban Burkina Faso: Displacement and the Social Performance of Hope Jesper Bjarnesen

    5 The Lack of Liberty Drove Us There: Spatialized Instantiations of Hope and Contested Diasporan Identity in the Liberian–American Transnational Field (1810–2010) Stephen C. Lubkemann

    6 Prospective Moments, Eternal Salvation: The Production of Hope in Nigerian Pentecostal Churches in China Heidi Østbø Haugen

    7 Hope and Uncertainty in Senegalese Migration to Spain: Taking Chances on Emigration but not Upon Return María Hernández-Carretero

    8 The Migratory Adventure as a Moral Experience Sylvie Bredeloup

    9 Death of a Gin Salesman: Hope and Despair among Ghanaian Migrants and Deportees Stranded in Niger Hans Lucht

    10 Returning with Nothing but an Empty Bag: Topographies of Social Hope after Deportation to Ghana Nauja Kleist


    Nauja Kleist is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

    Dorte Thorsen is theme leader on gender and qualitative research in the Migrating Out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium, University of Sussex, UK and associate researcher at LPED, Aix Marseille Université–IRD, France.

    "This collection of chapters provides invaluable insights ... [It] will be vastly informative for scholars working in contexts of African migration, as a means to contextualize contemporary trajectories through how they are motivated by the hope to surmount inequalities. The collection of papers exemplifies the ways that hope creates pathways that are both socially resonant and institutionally configured ... The framework, thus, has great potential for application to many other migration contexts shaped by "hope" which may be as instantly recognizable to other researchers as it was to this reviewer."

    Lauren B. WagnerAnthropological Quarterly

    "Through the concept of hope and uncertainty, the book offers a new conceptual framework […] A particular strength of this book is its focus on migrants' perspectives on migration through the analysis of detailed, ethnographic research data from a range of different contexts and actors. An orientation towards migrants' viewpoints is a much-needed and often neglected analytical perspective on the dynamics of mobility and immobility in migration literature. This volume demonstrates that such a lens offers novel answers to current debates on if and how mobility and settlement should be managed or understood. The book also shows how ethnographic case studies can exemplify and generate useful analytical and theoretical concepts for thinking about new developments in migration dynamics in the Global South."

    Inka Stock, Ethnic and Migration Studies

    "By focusing on hope as an analytical lens, this book offers a fresh perspective on migration from West Africa. Why do people embark on migration in spite of the risk of deadly dangers on the way to Europe? Based on thorough ethnography the studies collected in this edited volume show that hope is not naïve optimism but a way of coping with perilous situations, cognizant of risks and uncertainty."

    Martin Sökefeld, University of Munich, Germany

    "This book is a thought-provoking intervention at a time in the world when the mobility and migration of Africans is increasingly referenced and politicized as a problem … In all [the] varied, insightful, chapters, the fruitful potential of hope as an analytical concept comes to the fore. This book comes highly recommended as a valuable approach for unpacking the complexity of contemporary migration."

    Nalubwembe Binaisa, Migration and Society