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Mediating Mobility in West Africa: Improvisation, Culture, and Volatility in Migration Infrastructures
Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4154-427X
The Nordic Africa Institute, Research Unit.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3114-4018
2023 (English)In: The international migration review, ISSN 0197-9183, E-ISSN 1747-7379Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

How do migrants enact their mobilities in contexts where formalized labor migration is minimal, and where the European fight against irregular African migration is restricting the possibilities for informal border crossings? And which roles do cultural norms, social institutions, and individual agency play in facilitating migration? To answer these questions, this article offers a comparative reflection on the growing interest in the mediation of migration that emphasizes the actors and structures that shape and facilitate a migrant trajectory. Drawing on our own research in various West African contexts, and on a broader reading of research evoking the mediation of mobility, we engage primarily with the emerging scholarship on migration infrastructures. As a contribution to the study of how mobility is mediated by actors and structures external to the migrant, we suggest that it is important to move beyond the tendency to restrict analysis in a migrant-/institution-centric trade-off in which emphasis is either placed on migrant aspirations and capabilities or the institutionalized mediation of migration. We further propose to analytically distinguish between the mediation of migration—denoting the processes of facilitation and restriction of mobility through institutions, external interventions, and socio-cultural practices—and the modular components of connection and organization through which actual migration occurs. To accentuate the shifting and volatile configuration of these elements, we suggest a concept of migration infrastructural assemblages. We thereby emphasize the benefits of incorporating improvisation, culture, and volatility in our understanding of the meditation of migration in West Africa and beyond.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
Mobility, West Africa, mediation, migration infrastructure, assemblages
National Category
Other Social Sciences International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nai:diva-2885DOI: 10.1177/01979183231205563OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nai-2885DiVA, id: diva2:1806264
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-04602Available from: 2023-10-20 Created: 2023-10-20 Last updated: 2024-02-02Bibliographically approved

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