TRANSCODE NL (the Netherlands) participates in a book project provisionally titled “African Migration: The role of mobility for a continent in transition”. It is the intention that the book will be developed through a workshop engaging migration related actors to be held in Cape Town (South Africa), 5-7 June 2018.
This edited book, takes an explicit and consistent focus on the African migrant as its principle actor, with the idea that this may empower, or at least better position, migrants and their engagements with those around them, local and beyond. The ten chapters that comprise the main body of the book thus seek to give insight into key developments typifying on-going migration processes and their impact on migrants and their social networks. The emphasis on the position of the migrant does have certain implications, as it means that chapters need to put centre stage the migrant(s) in their argument, rather than – for instance – migration governance, or local development.
The book is closely connected to the international workshop The Migrant Actor in Human Mobility which will be held in Cape Town. The workshop is meant to explain and clarify urgent issues around African migration and the results of the workshop will provide direct input for the various chapters. The approach of the workshop is to have multi-stakeholder discussions around presentations that focuses on the migrant actor and migrant experiences with the aim to contribute to migrant policies of the diversity of public and private actors.
The workshop and the book production are a joint effort of the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (Cape Town), the Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town), in cooperation with partners in the Transnational Synergy for Cooperation and Development (TRANSCODE). Actors involved include NGOs, migrant organisations, faith based organisations, academics, and others.
Preamble of the Book Books and papers from researchers and scientists usually approach international migration from the point of view of the ‘objective observer’ who assesses specific dimensions and/or processes of migration such as reasons for migration and the impact of financial and social remittances. Beyond these publications we have also seen many newspaper special reports on migration by journalists who have observed and interviewed migrants alongside other actors for some time, to thereby give insight to their newspaper audiences about the current state of migration affairs, why migrants migrate, etc. Finally, there is a quickly growing body of
literature and other cultural expositions describing, sometimes in great detail, the experiences of newcomers in foreign destinations, and what this means. The books Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, A man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg and the bundle Migrations: New short fiction from Africa, edited by Efemia Chela, Bongani Kona and Helen Moffett are good examples of this.
Whilst both journalistic efforts and fiction lack a scientific approach, we consider their focus on the migrant as relevant, and take inspiration from this in how we developed the outline and goals of this book, namely to put the migrant centre stage, as the crucial actor in any migration process. After all, it is the migrant who decides why to go, when to go, where to go, how to go, or whether – rather – to stay after all. This book takes an explicit and consistent focus on the African migrant as its principle actor, with the idea that this may empower, or at least better position, migrants and their engagements with those around them, local and beyond
An overall endeavour of this book is to be as inclusive as possible in our analysis. In terms of empirical orientation this has a three-fold implication: (1) Whilst we give emphasis to Africa-European linkages where linkages to developments outside the continent is involved, this is not exclusive; (2) Almost logically, but not empirically, Africa includes North Africa. Thus where chapters could bring in examples from this region, and this goes well beyond the trans-Sahara routes taken by West African migrants, we encourage authors to do so, as current literature still seems to be drawn along the lines of a Francophone/Anglophone distinction. (3) Most fundamentally however, the process by which chapters are developed provides a unique chance to bring in a sense of agency to how arguments come about for each of the chapters. • The lead authors of the book will write and share a 3 page statement exposing key issues and their parameters for their respective topic; . • The statements will be shared and presented by the lead authors at the international workshop held in Cape Town, June 2018. This workshop brings them together with others, including migrants, civil society members, policy makers.
Preliminary Book layout
Introduction: African migration: putting the migrant central (Editors)
Part I: The ‘African’ migrant, the African ‘migrant’ and the ‘African migrant’
1. African migration: dwelling on the past, understanding the present
2. The migrant as an elusive concept and resilient actor
Part II: Poles of attraction at the continental level and beyond
3. A changing landscape: rural – urban migration
4. Labour migration in post-national economies
5. Forced migration, and then? From individual sores and local issues to future prospects of refugees as global citizens
Part III: African migration in a global context
6. When is it multiple choice? Finding the right route
7. Arriving together, pulled apart: Documented and Undocumented Migrants
8. Europe’s backbone: The position of African migrants
Part IV: The African diaspora
9. Beyond the silence: The rise of an African Diaspora
10. Still the goose with the golden eggs? Migration and co- versus post-state development
Epilogue: The scope for migration in/on Africa: A continent adrift, or a continent on the move?
Editors: Sergio Carciotto, Lothar Smith, Agnes Khoo and Ton van Naerssen
Expected publication: Summer 2019
Source photo: https://www.one.org/us/2014/03/05/the-spirit-of-ubuntu-the-isixhosa-people-of-southafrica/