Accepted paper:

Politicizing ethnicity: African Associations in Belgium


NICOLE GREGOIRE (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I shall try to understand the lack of collective action among the African communities in Belgium. Therefore, I shall analyze the Belgian political context on the one hand, and the roles and the statuses of the « African associations » leaders on the other hand.

Paper long abstract:

During the 90's, a great number of « African associations » began to flourish in Belgium. Many of them were short-lived, while others came into being. An analysis of the political context of this period shows that the emergence of those associations is linked thereto. I shall thus first explain how public policies have encouraged the birth of so-called immigrants' associations. Secondly, I shall analyze the reasons of this favourable political context : was the creation of « accomodation leaders » at stake ? Indeed, the growing number of associations never gave rise to a large-scale and long-term collective mobilisation to improve the social, economic and political being of the African-rooted people in Belgium. Trying to understand that, I shall use my ethnographic datas to show the roles and the statuses of the ethnic associations leaders within the African-rooted communities and in Belgian society at large. In this case, the nuance between ethnic communities and ethnic categories and a larger reflection about the notions of power and powerlessness among ethnic minority groups might be helpful.

panel W088
Migrant associations in Europe: simultaneous incorporation, everyday cosmopolitanisms and actually existing citizenship