The Role of Networks in Rural-Urban-Transnational Encounters: The Mobility of People, Ideas and Spaces
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 09:00
This panel looks at networks in rural-urban encounters and the connectivity of spaces, people and ideas. Approaching urban Africa as a triangulation between the rural and diaspora raises theoretical, empirical and methodological questions about migration and transregional networks.
Rapid urbanization continues to change the face of Sub-Saharan Africa. This affects the way scholars ask questions - theoretically, empirically and in terms of epistemology. One major complexity in understanding African urbanity is the role of networks. This panel looks at networks and other social relations in rural-urban encounters and analyses the connectivity of spaces, people and ideas from the stance of both migration and transregional studies. It offers a new approach to thinking about urban Africa, by taking the urban as an element in a triangulation with the rural and the diaspora.
Theoretically, how do patterns of mobility affect urbanization and what role does urbanization play in creating and enhancing migration (networks)? Which historic networks are being challenged and reinforced and which entanglements link urban Africans and the diaspora in the 21st century? How do ideas of citizenship link back to mobility between rural, urban and transnational centres? Empirically, how do internet, mobile phones, money transfer possibilities and social media affect social relations and people's life trajectories? What kinds of family arrangements are made across rural, urban and diaspora spheres? Lastly, methodologically, how do urbanization processes in Africa transform conventional research and how do scholars gear up to face these changes? This panel invites submissions from historians, anthropologists and political scientists that are interested in the formation and re-negotiation of networks of people, of places and ideas related to the African continent and its old and new diasporas.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
The role of transnational networks in mitigating uncertainty: Herders and hunters in Côte d'Ivoire's northern borderlands
This contribution analyses what role transnational networks play in mitigating uncertainties in the life of two social groups – farmer-hunters and cattle herders – in the border triangle of Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Borderlands are said to bear particularly high levels of insecurity and uncertainty. This contribution analyses what role transnational networks play in mitigating uncertainties in the life of two social groups - farmer-hunters and cattle herders - in the border triangle of Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali.
In the literature, herders and hunters are often portrayed as two distinct, sometimes opposing groups. Whereas the farmer-hunters are described as the 'sedentary' landowners, the Fulani are said to be a highly mobile cattle-herding group. However, in times of socio-economic uncertainties and new means of transportation, people with various backgrounds and livelihoods use mobility to mitigate uncertainties and search for more opportunities elsewhere. Hunters, too, maintain far-reaching networks and often have several anchor points in both rural and urban areas across the borderland.
In our paper, we will compare social networks and patterns of mobility of both groups - herders and hunters - and question the opposing ways these two groups have been portrayed in terms of mobility, livelihoods and networks. At an empirical level, we will analyse how families in the borderland organize their lives across rural, urban and transnational spheres. We will ask to what extent ICT is used to maintain transnational relations and examine what role citizenship plays in the borderland. From an analytical point of view, we will explore to what extent it makes sense to speak of networks rather than of social relations more generally and show what an analytical lens of networks may reveal.
Coming back home. Ivorian hometown associations and the organisation of wakes in Paris.
My intervention will focus on Ivorian's' hometown associations and the organisation of wakes in banlieue, in Paris, in preparation for a "return at home", in Ivory Coast.
These rituals are the example of a diasporic device which creates a new experience of citizenship.
My intervention will focus on the Ivorian diaspora and funeral wakes organised by village associations in banlieue, in Paris. In this last context, in particular, the ritual has an important value: at the same time we have the social elaboration of grief, there's the evaluation of the "return at home" (as the burial in the land of the ancestors), the ideal conclusion for every community member's life.
As I've seen, for Ivoirians in Paris, wake's organisation is a moral duty to the dead and to his family; a duty respected by village associations with an economic and material sustain. For whom deceased in Paris or in France, but for whom deceased in Ivory Coast too, associations organise wakes to rise founds for celebrations at home, with a following burial at the village. The ethnography of wakes and their organisation is an important way to see not only desires, imaginations and communitarian narrations which push people to invest time and resources in these practices, but also to see some crucial identity devices, important to experience the immigration in France, with a diasporic configuration.
Living in a European city, for Ivorian migrants, is a way to create a bound between an imagined world's centre and their native land. Associations' activities, in this context, are a tool to push villages and cities to development and to modernity, maintaining traditions and communitarian devices.
Uncovering the Glocal Imaginaries of Mobility in Nigeria
This paper seeks to interrogate the pathways through which local and aspiring global migrants construct imaginaries of destinations in Lagos, Europe and North America.
The enduring myth of the Eldorado, which came out of the Spanish Conquests of Latin America in the 16th century, continues to represent the desires and aspirations of (international) migrants around the globe vis a vis prosperity and the beginning of a new life. But beyond such outdated clichés and the paternalism embedded within such narratives, the personal and existential dimensions of migratory processes and patterns (that is, their expectations and experiences) is still very much worth exploring.
The paper seeks to shed new insights on key questions relating to how myths and imaginaries affect the migratory patterns of Nigerian migrants, such as:
· What are the mechanisms through which mobility imaginaries are formed among migrant groups in Nigeria, both global and local?
· What, if any, are the similarities between the imaginaries and myths held by local migrants to Lagos and aspiring global migrants?
· Has there been a disconnect between the imaginaries formed in the minds of local migrants to Lagos and the realities of their experienced discovered upon arrival to Lagos?
We will employ a mixed methods research approach, incorporating the use of quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (interviews, both structured and unstructured) methods. The study will be carried out with migrant communities from other parts of Nigeria that are domiciled in Lagos.
Calling across social hierarchies? Deconstructing mobile phones and the promise of upward mobility in urban Togo
This paper discusses how urban people in Togolese use and perceive mobile phones in private and professional contacts that are close by and distant. Ethnographic data from Sokodé questions whether mobile phones facilitate transgressing social hierarchies, asserting that intermediaries remain critical.
This paper describes how people in the city of Sokodé use and perceive their mobile phones in private and public urban spaces, and how they maintain and establish different linkages. Sokodé is among the biggest secondary cities of Togo, its economy dominated by petty traders. Young and old are looking for ways to 'go on adventure' in a context of economic deprivation and lack of perspective. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the paper sheds a light on how urbanites employ their mobile phones in their contact with family members, friends and business contacts close by and far away.
We can see mobile phones as holding a promise to a possible way out of the daily hardship, even though calling costs are high, many phones are in bad condition and the telecommunication networks are unreliable. In this context, being reachable by others seems to be more important than to reach others - for instance for mobile money transfer. Furthermore, as we have found out, the mobile phone mainly seems to serve communication between people on the same level of the societal hierarchy. In several spheres, the direct encounter of people remains important for maintaining social relations and transmitting information. The paper argues that so far, mobile phones in urban Togo do not seem to facilitate a clear transgressing of social hierarchies, which cannot be seen apart from an unfree political context, economic hardship and social conventions.
Ethnic Stratification and Networks of Reciprocity - Reproducing Inequality Patterns?
Ethnic diversity within nations is prevalent in states where unity was (super) imposed through colonialism. Fragmented welfare states, a weak sense of belonging across ethnicities and a strong reliance on informal systems for redistribution builds on rather than transforms patterns of inequality.
"The violent heritage from a dialectic point of view, shaped mentalities and ideologies of both, colonisers and colonised" (Frantz Fanon).
Looking at the Namibian history, authors have described the acknowledgement that liberation struggles as power -charged and violent processes were not a fruitful environment for the foundation of democratic environments. The institutionalization of unification through a nation state, a democratic system and government meets different ethnic groups who in turn depict strong feelings and loyalties among but not necessarily across them.
Various studies have explored the impact of ethnic diversification on inequality patterns through indirect political channels as members of different ethnicities appear to be less willing to distribute money to members of a different ethnic group. However, the a weak system of public solidarity and political will to implement such resulting in fragmented welfare states places the burden of redistribution on the informal systems of social protection. Therefore it is argued that inequality is also directly impacted if not re-produced if distribution of social assistance and insurance is based on networks of reciprocity which are founded on social identities including ethnicities and processes of social exclusion and inclusion.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.