07.- 11.06.

P 27: Governing African mobility: actors, institutions and practices


Governing African mobility: actors, institutions and practices

Dr. Johara Berriane, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin
Dr. Elieth Eyebiyi, Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris, Centre de Recherche en Politiques Sociales Dakar and LASDEL


Short Abstract:

Based on historically and ethnographically informed contributions, this panel explores the diverse practices of migration and mobility regulation on the African continent in order to question and challenge, in a second time, the notion of « migration governance » that prevails today in public debates and migration scholarship.


Long Abstract

Migration and mobility have, both today and yesterday been crucial to the economic and social development of human societies. However, despite their essential role, these social practices have increasingly become a major challenge for African states and their societies. Indeed, the rise of political crises as well as the increase of ecological catastrophes have led to unprecedent exodus towards urban centres as well as to the establishment of refugee camps that African states and host societies have to handle. Todays’ restrictive and security-based migration policies of many African states and the externalisation of the European borders have further led to the widespread opinion that migration and mobility within Africa need to be better controlled, ordered, documented and governed. Yet, this mainstream view (among international organisations and states) tend to ignore the manifold circulatory and mobility practices which migrants, traders and other African mobile individuals undertake and that both contribute to the (local, national and global) economies and participate in regulating flows, the migration installations and the integration of strangers within the continent.

Bringing together historically and ethnographically informed contributions that emphasize the perspective of the actors, this panel explores the diverse practices of migration and mobility ‘governance’ on the African continent. It aims first to highlight the varied bureaucratic and non-bureaucratic forms of mobility regulation in Africa and the different actors and formal and informal institutions (public, private or civil society) involved in these practices in order to question and challenge, in a second time, the notion of « migration governance » that prevails today in public debates and migration scholarship.


01 Jochen Lingelbach: Governing refugee mobility – contrasting genealogies of encampment in Uganda and Kenya (1930s to 1960s)

Most scholars and humanitarian practitioners agree that refugee encampment does more harm than good. Nevertheless, refugee camps are still a major technique to govern the mobility of refugees in Africa. However, there are striking differences in the refugee host policies of different African countries. One explanation for this difference can be traced in the specific historical trajectories and genealogies of refugee encampment. This paper will show these differences by contrasting the histories of Kenyan and Ugandan encampment policies from the colonial to the postcolonial period.

In Uganda, the first refugee camps were established in the 1940s for Polish refugees, followed in the 1950s by Sudanese and Rwandans fleeing violence from the independence conflicts. Especially in the setting up the camps for Rwandan refugees Ugandan officials mainly followed already existing agricultural resettlement schemes. In the context of the post-war ‘developmental colonialism’, the Ugandan government regarded the refugees as an asset to settle underpopulated regions, push back animal diseases and increase productivity. In Kenya, the first refugee camps were set up in the 1930s for Ethiopian refugees from the war with Italy. Strictly supervised, these refugees were not supposed to form permanent settlements but to return as soon as feasible. The most extensive camp system in Kenya developed in the 1950s consisting of the internment camps during the counterinsurgency war against Mau Mau. The post-colonial government continued the practice of internment during the Shifta War in the 1960s to 1970s. The Kenyan policy of refugee encampment developed in the 1990s out of this legacy of securitization. Today, Uganda's policy of giving rights and land to refugees stands in stark contrast to Kenya’s restrictive encampment policies.

Based on archival research in London and Nairobi this paper will present some preliminary results of the new research project ‘Africa in the global history of refugee camps’ within the research section ‘Mobilities’ of the cluster of excellence ‘Africa multiple’ at the University of Bayreuth. Additionally, it draws on findings from the author’s concluded doctoral research project on Polish refugees in British colonial Africa. This paper thereby exemplifies the assumption that refugee camps are non-universal and locally specific, yet globally entangled mobile devices for the care and control of mobile people.

Jochen Lingelbach is a postdoctoral research fellow in African History at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.


02 Betty Rouland: Health mobilities in practice: accounting for heterogeneous actors and scales in Tunisia

This paper discusses the evolution of mobilities in the Maghreb through the case study of Tunisia. I argue that a multi-dimensional and multi-scalar approach constitute a relevant prism to examine the evolution of migration, mobilities and circulation in the region. From the colonial period to the post-revolution context, we observe important shifts on intra-regional and transregional migratory dynamics regarding the scales and the actors. In order to exemplify our statement, empirical data on patients from the Maghreb and sub-Sahara Africa in Tunisia will be discussed. Based on a historical perspective as well as ethnographic field work in a private clinic, we disentangle how cross-border, regional, transnational processes in specific geopolitical contexts produce specific migratory figures that are governed on multiple scales. Focusing on the private health sector in Tunisia, our interest is on endogenous development processes through intra- and transregional mobilities.

Betty Rouland is a postdoctoral researcher in geography at the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC), Tunisia.   


03 Lotte Pelckmans: (Non-)governing internally displaced People in Mali: the case of fugitive post-slavery displacements

This paper proposes to investigate the ‘non-governmentality’ (Mann 2015) of internally displaced people in Mali. More specifically, my paper will focus on the case of fugitive displacements of people with slave status. In post-slavery Mali, descent-based slavery continues to be a problem, whereby people with ascribed ‘slave status’ face ongoing discrimination and exclusion from diverse spheres of social life. Those who are standing up for their rights and try to change their fates by participating in anti-slavery mobilisations, have been violently repressed and pushed out of their home villages, resulting in the displacement of over 3000 persons in the Kayes region alone. 

The fate of these displaced people is mainly one of abandonment and invisibility, with no organisations nor the state actually engaging in finding solutions, setting up help or support structures and thus reflecting a non-governmentality in the engagement with internally displaced Malians. The data for this paper are based on a collaborative research project on fugitive displacements in West Mali, in the context of our project on slavery and migration: www.slaveryforcedmigration.org  

This could arguably been contrasted with an almost hyper- or over-governmentality when it comes to so-called ‘transit’ of perceived south-north (international)migrants, who constitute a group that has become hypervisible and receives attention by a plethora of actors governing these other group of mobile people both from within and beyond the Malian national government.  

Lotte Pelckmans is associate professor at the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies of the University of Copenhagen.


04 Aissatou Seck : Endémo-épidémies et assistance médicale dans la rationalisation des mobilités de travail en AOF. Sénégal, 1920-1958

La politique de « mise en valeurs des colonies » initiée par la France à partir de 1920, engendre d’importants flux migratoires de travailleurs en AOF. Ce projet nécessitant la mobilisation de la main d’œuvre des colonies peuplées vers celles à faibles densités, imposait la rationalisation des mobilités de travail et soulevait en même temps la question de sécuriser la santé de ces « forces vives » menacée par les crises endémo-épidémiques qui sévissaient dans les colonies. Sous ce rapport, l’assistance médicale, dans ses différentes fonctions de promouvoir la santé des autochtones, apparaît comme une institution prenant en charge le contrôle sanitaire des travailleurs circulant entre les différentes colonies. Elle se matérialise par des visites médicales et des offres de soins dans les lieux de départ, des vaccinations obligatoires dont les procédures passent par des pratiques d’enregistrement et de fichage des populations dans les zones de transit ou frontalières. En prenant pour cas d’étude le Sénégal colonial, cette communication tente d’analyser les enjeux et les pratiques d’assistance médicale qui sous-tendent la régulation des mobilités de travail en AOF entre 1920 et 1950. 

Aissatou Seck is doctoral student at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar and research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Paris and the Centre de Recherche sur les Politiques Sociales in Dakar.  


05 Makafui Kpedator: Re-conceptualization of the lives of female migrants from the Northern regions in Ghana

The paper seeks to provide a reconceptualization of the lives of female migrants from the Upper East, Upper West, Savanna, Northeast and Northern regions of Ghana. The goal of the paper is to use the agency of female migrants, through a refraction of their coping strategies in negotiating for livelihood, to advance a new debate about internal migration studies in Ghana. Extant literature on migration assumes that female Northern migrants are vulnerable and susceptible to all forms of challenges in southern Ghana where they migrate to. Centralizing on female migrants from the Northern regions in La Nkwantanang-Madina area, a suburb of Accra, I argue that female migrants invest in many coping strategies that enable them to survive the economic and Socio- cultural challenges I greater are their new destination. I maintain that, instead of projecting these female migrants as victims and helpless in the face of urban challenges, it is important to emphasize the coping strategies that these migrants deploy to negotiate for livelihood in Accra. In terms of policy formulation, this implies that the state has to identify areas where female migrants have demonstrated autonomy in living in Accra and complement their efforts. 

Makafui Kpedator is a tutor at the University of Ghana distance education unit. 


06 Seun Bamidele: From the Margin to the Mainstream: Dealing with the Scourge of Insecurity of Transit Migrants in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa

The control of migrants is often exercised through the prism of crisis and risks, especially for host states that seek to “manage” them through securitization. A regime of securitization can disempower and subdue transit migrants in society, as they are often not accorded the opportunity to publicly voice their security needs, leading to deleterious implications for their wellbeing and safety. This paper seeks to unravel the implications of a securitized migration regime on migrants in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa, as well as propose how to deal with the scourge, from the standpoint of securitization regime. This study argues that to effectively deliver on its security needs with regard to transit migration, the government must develop and deploy a holistic strategy for regulating migration activities. This strategy should integrate such features as: early warning systems; advocacy, public awareness and creation of disincentives; intelligence information sharing; investment in economic and social infrastructures; and strengthening of migration laws and policies, as well as regional alliances, among others.

Seun Bamidele is a doctoral student in Development Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. 


07 Madeleine Christelle Njiki Bikoi: Politique publique de prise en charge des personnes vulnérables en situation de mobilité: cas des réfugiés de Garoua Boulaï à l’Est du Cameroun

La question des mobilités forcées est un sujet d’actualité au Cameroun au regard des différentes crises qui secouent ce pays depuis 2013. Déjà sur le plan sous régional, la crise sociopolitique centrafricaine et le phénomène de la nébuleuse Boko Haram ont engendré le déplacement de millions de personnes pour la grande majorité d’origine centrafricaine et nigériane qui ont trouvé refuge auprès des sites d’accueil recensés dans les régions de l’Est et de l’Extrême-Nord du Cameroun. Sur le plan national, la nébuleuse terroriste Boko Haram cité supra et la récente crise identitaire dénommée la « crise des régions dites anglophones » de 2017 ont également été à l’origine du déplacement forcée de millier de camerounais tant

dans l’espace national que dans l’espace international. Toutefois, l’accent sera mis dans le cadre de cette recherche sur le concept de politique publique d’asile ou de refuge en tant que voie d’observation et d’analyse de la gouvernance migratoire au Cameroun.

La situation actuelle du statut de réfugié au Cameroun porte moins sur leur conditions de personnes vulnérables mais tout au contraire sur la capacité de l’Etat camerounais de pouvoir assurer leur intégration et insertion sociale, d’où la problématique des mécanismes de réhabilitation de cette catégorie de personnes. En effet, il est évident qu’en tant que personnes vulnérables, les réfugiés et les déplacés ne peuvent par elles-même contenir le maximum de besoins qu’elles sont capable de générer. Pour se faire, il s’agit dans le cadre de cette étude de mettre en relief les interventions et politiques publiques produites et mise en œuvre aussi bien par l’Etat du Cameroun que par ses partenaires au développement afin d’assurer la réhabilitation de ces personnes classées dans cette situation de vulnérabilité. En ce sens, quel est le poids de la politique de prise en charge des réfugiés au Cameroun ?

La participation au projet de recherche dénommé : « stratégies de rehabilitation des personnes vulnérables du fait des déplacements » de 2016-2018, dans les régions de l’Est et de l’Extrême-Nord du Cameroun a servi de terrain d’application et d’expérimentation des théories scientifiques de gouvernance migratoire, mais aussi cette participation au projet a été l’occasion de cerner le mécanisme d’action et l’impact de la politique de prise en charge du Cameroun.

Christelle Njiki Bikoi is researcher at the Centre National de l’Education, in Yaoundé (Cameroon). 

June 7 @ 10:30
10:30 — 14:00 (3h 30')

Zoom Room 3

Elieth Eyebiyi, Johara Berriane

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