Current Institutional Affiliation
UX Researcher

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Washington
Barça ou Barzakh: The Social “Elsewhere” of Failed Clandestine Migration Out of West Africa

Over the past decade, tens of thousands of predominantly male “boat migrants” departed from Senegalese shores for Europe. As labor markets opened in Tripoli and Algiers, thousands more transited by land across North Africa. Today, however, the combined effects of surveillance technologies patrolling Senegalese coasts, mobility partnerships between the European Union and the Senegalese state, and post-Arab spring developments have resulted in the sequential constriction of illicit migration routes, leaving many migrants either in protracted transit or subject to enforced repatriation. Current migration scholarship focuses largely on assessing integration and social networking in host or transit countries. It overlooks what happens when migrants fail to reach their intended destination and are forced to return. My research will examine “failed migration” by looking at both state policies and migrant strategies across the region. On the level of the state, this research asks how political partnerships and development policies both facilitate and circumscribe population movements that are physical and social in nature. On the level of the individual, this research asks how the social barzakh, or “elsewhere,” of failed migration influences future possibilities for male youth in contemporary West Africa. The experience of failed migration in Senegal is creating significant physical and psychological challenges for young West Africans. The Senegalese state is developing new forms of governmentality to deal with this burgeoning population of unsuccessful migrants, partnering state and non-state actors. These are facets of the global migration phenomenon that are largely invisible in the literatures on youth, migration and the African state, but they are an increasingly common part of the life story of West African youth. Based in Dakar, Senegal, research will take place over nine months between July 2012 and March 2013.