NomadIT Conference Suite

ECAS 2019. Africa: Connections and Disruptions

Migration and inequality: the African migrant and access to public services
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]


  • Christal O. Spel (University of South Africa) email
  • Chris Nshimbi (Centre for Study of Governance Innovation) email

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Chair Chris Nshimbi
Discussant Christal Spel

Short abstract

This panel examines migration and inequality in Africa and the level of migrants' access to public services from a regional perspective . It focuses on national political forces, experiences of disconnected migrants and private providers of alternative but ordinarily public services.

Long abstract

Geiger and Pecoud (2010) declare 'international migration management has become a popular catchphrase for a wide range of initiatives that aim at renewing the policies pertaining to the cross-border movements of people". In contemporary Africa, such initiatives are directed at curbing the in-flow of 'undesired' migrants, as well as disconnecting and disrupting access to public services to immigrants through carefully crafted regulations. In this context, documented and undocumented migrants adopt and develop alternative or informal initiatives to access such services or provide them themselves. However, economic and political forces of integration are regionally connecting African countries to each other and promoting mobility within the continent. In this vein, the migrants negotiate unequal access to public services in pursuit of their wellbeing in a regional context characterised by connections and disruptions.

Against this backdrop, this panel seeks to examine migration and inequality in Africa from three perspectives: 1. Experiences of African migrants that purchase alternative, or informally gain access to, such services. 2. Whether and how private providers of alternative services influence the connection or disconnection of African migrants to/from accessing public services in host countries. 3. The future of political forces that are driving the connection or disconnection of African migrants from accessing such services in the context of regional integration. Papers in the panel will examine these issues from health, education, livelihood, housing,among other social perspectives.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Combating Xenophobia Through Music in South Africa

Author: Mlungisi Phakathi (University of South Africa) email
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Short abstract

South Africa has experienced a few epesodes of xenophobic violence directed against Africans from other African countries in the post-apartheid era. This paper discusses the role that music plays in the fight agaisnt xenophobia.

Long abstract

The paper analyses how Maskandi musician, Mthandeni uses song to

spread the message against xenophobia in the South African society. The

paper discusses some of the causes of xenophobia and xenophobic violence

and provides possible solutions to these challenges. The paper identifies

negative-name calling as one of the roots of xenophobic attitudes and

violence. The paper also discusses the South African government's

response to xenophobic violence. It also discusses the impact of

xenophobic violence on South Africa's diplomatic effort on the African

continent. The paper also discusses the role of traditional leadership in the

fight against xenophobia and xenophobic violence in South Africa.

On securitisation of migration, undocumented migration and access to education in South Africa

Authors: Inocent Moyo (University of Zululand) email
Mandisa Makhathini (University of Zululand) email
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Short abstract

This paper discusses the concrete actions and procedures that African migrants have engaged in, in an attempt to access education given structural and institutional impediments which disrupt such access.

Long abstract

In the Southern African region, South Africa continues to be a destination of choice for migrants from the SADC and beyond. The increasing numbers of migrants and especially those from African countries has generated debate and xenophobia alike. This has been characterised by discourses which advocate for stricter immigration regimes precisely because migrants and particularly those from African countries are assumed and/or perceived to fiercely compete with South African citizens, for jobs and resources as well as facilities such as health and education, among others. This is the context of this paper, which explores the concrete procedures which have been employed by African migrants in South Africa so as to access education. The paper argues that, the structural and institutional impediments faced by African migrants in accessing education has forced them to employ methods ranging from the illegal to those which can be characterised as dynamic agentive, such as use of fraudulent documents. This brings to the fore the dialectics between social integration at the level of education between member states of SADC, for example and the securitisation of migration. It is argued, that, this appears to assault the ideal of regional integration as immortalised in the Declaration and Treaty of SADC (1992).

Reclaiming the right to the city: everyday practices of service provision for South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum

Author: Griet Steel (Utrecht University) email
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Short abstract

The paper examines how South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum reclaim their right to the city. It shows the creative ways in which they find access to public services such as electricity, water and transport by moving into first-class neighborhoods as guardians of unfinished construction sites.

Long abstract

Migrants are generally defined as people moving from one place to another to find better livelihood opportunities. In the case of South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum the situation is more complex as it are migrants who already lived in the capital of Sudan, but moved to South Sudan in 2011 which after several decades of conflict officially seceded from Sudan. However, as soon as the war broke out in 2013, many South Sudanese returned to Khartoum, but due to their refugee status could no longer have access to the dwellings or places they were living in before. Although many South Sudanese ended up in informal settlements or refugee camps in the outskirts of the city, several ones also tried to blend into the city on the basis of informal arrangements with landowners in central, first class neighborhoods, where they become a guardian for unfinished construction sites. By moving into the urban core, the South Sudanese are capable of claiming access to informal jobs, electricity, water and transport, public services that are not as common in the peripheral neighborhoods were most of their peers reside. By examining these creative ways of connecting and disconnecting with public services in first class neighborhoods, the paper will throw an innovative light on the right to the city debate by showing the specific way in which Sudanese migrants (re)claim their right to the city. This reclamation ultimately improves their livelihoods and creates dynamics that might promote more inclusivity and heterogeneous spaces within the city.

Implications of a Securitised Migration Regime on Somali Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya

Author: Margaret Monyani (University of the Witwatersrand) email
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Short abstract

The paper unpacks migration governance in an era of 'war on terror' which is characterized by a myriad of surveillance techniques, through which migrants are depoliticized and placed within spaces of exception, and how such spaces of exception become regularized and legalized within the polity.

Long abstract

Contemporary governance of refugees globally is exercised through the prism of crisis, threats and risks especially for host states that seek to "manage" them through regimes of increasing securitization. Indeed, current anxieties associated with global conflict and refugee flows, particularly from the Middle-Eastern and sub-Saharan African migrant itineraries through Northern Africa, have refocused global attention on refugees. Their criminalization by sanctuary-states has in a way led to the growing difficulties of refugees to live decently and without fear in their new, "hosts" settings. This paper is about such global dynamics associated with refugee governance from an African standpoint by focusing on the livelihood situations of Somali refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. The paper focuses on the growing securitization of refugee management in Kenya which generates increasing challenges for the everyday livelihoods of these urban Somali refugees and their families which compels them to respond in creative, adaptive ways so as to cope with these constraining dynamics of securitization. The paper unpacks migration governance in an era of 'war on terror' which is characterized by a myriad of surveillance techniques, through which migrants are depoliticized and placed within spaces of exception, and how such spaces of exception gradually become regularized and legalized within the polity. The paper argues that securitisation of the urban Somali refugees is a cyclic and multi-layered process that not only involves various government agencies at various levels, local citizens as crucial agents to the process but also the refugees themselves through their innovative resistance to the seclusion.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.