EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P048)
Moving beyond the colonial? North-South mobility, power and post-colonial encounters [ANTHROMOB]
Location U6-38
Date and Start Time 21 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Lisa Åkesson (University of Gothenburg) email
  • Pétur Waldorff (Nordic Africa Institute/University of Iceland) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel explores European human mobility towards its former colonies, and analyses encounters between the migrant ex-colonizer and the native ex-colonized. It focuses on power relations and identities, and examines how these are related to continuities and ruptures with the colonial past.

Long Abstract

European human mobility towards its former colonies has increased over the last years, driven by many factors. Some of these Europeans are labour migrants searching for employment and a stable income. Others move in hope of economic profit, upward social mobility, or adventure. Still others aspire to leave behind difficult life situations or achieve a better quality of life. Many of these North-South migrants follow trajectories leading them to spaces that formerly were colonized by the migrant's country of origin. These movements sometimes take place against a background of globally changing economic power relations, with recession in parts of Europe and economic growth in former colonies. This panel focuses on encounters between the migrant ex-colonizer and the native ex-colonized in the wake of these new movements. In particular it welcomes papers that discuss changing power relations and identities, and explore how these are related to continuities and ruptures with the colonial past. Thus, the panel links up with the anthropological tradition of studying (post)colonial transformations and shifting power relations. The panel is also open for papers discussing the integration of migrants from the global North into countries of destination in the Global South, as well as papers exploring these migrants' potential contributions to social, political and economic development. Theoretically, the panel aims to combine post-colonial perspectives with research on the migration-development nexus and on integration. In relation to post-colonial studies, the panel moves beyond the traditional focus on continuities, and also explores emerging ruptures with the past.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Portuguese "migrants" in Luanda: a post-colonial encounter?

Author: Irène Dos Santos (CNRS)  email

Short Abstract

Since 2002 migrations from Portugal to its former colony have increased significantly. This paper aims to analyze the practices of sociability and the aspirations of various figures of “migrants” (labor migrants, expatriates, descendants of “Retornados”, binationals) in the Angolan society.

Long Abstract

Since the end of the civil war in Angola, in 2002, but even more in the wake of the economic crisis that hit the south of Europe, migrations from Portugal to its former colony have increased significantly. These fluxes take place in the context of an inversion of power relations between former colonizer and former colony. Indeed, Angola's soaring investments in Portugal since 2006-07 has led to a greater dependence of Portugal on Angola and to the acceptance of a kind of neocolonialism by the Portuguese elites (Soares de Oliveira 2015). Who precisely are those Portuguese who decide to go to work in Angola, and what are their motivations? On which aspirations and imaginaries are their mobility based? Which economic, social, cultural resources, as well as the factors related to identity and memory, are being mobilized in these trajectories? What meanings do they bestow on the places and spaces they travel to and across, as well as on their own experience of mobility? This paper aims to analyze the practices of sociability, the representations of social and racial hierarchies, and the political aspirations of various figures of "migrants" (labor migrants, expatriates, descendants of "Retornados", binationals) in the Angolan society. The study is based on ethnographic research made in Lisbon and Luanda with twenty persons and their families in 2011 and 2012.

Postcolonial positions: conceptualizing the Portuguese migrants in Angola

Author: Lisa Åkesson (University of Gothenburg)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how different conceptualisations of Portuguese migrants in Angola interplay with postcolonial identities and power relations. The conceptualisations vary depending on the speaker’s position, and are also related to migrants’ family history, generation, legal status and profession

Long Abstract

When the economic crisis hit Portugal in 2008 the economy was booming in the former colony of Angola. In the years to come, soaring unemployment and drastically decreased salaries pushed people away from Portugal at the same time as Angola provided openings for different kinds of migrants. In consequence of this development, for the first time in history, migrants from a former European colonial power sought improved living condition in a former African colony on a large scale. Some of these migrants were children of the Portuguese colonisers who left Angola at independence in 1975. The aim of this paper is to explore how different conceptualisations of these migrants interplay with postcolonial identities and positions of power. Some Portuguese see themselves as returnees while Angolans may talk about them as colonisers coming back. Highly skilled Portuguese sometimes call themselves expats, thereby indicating international connections beyond the Lusophone sphere. Neither the Angolans nor the Portuguese use the term "migrants" which they instead apply to low skilled labour from other African countries residing in Angola. From an analytical perspective, the concept "second generation postcolonial returnees" may be useful, if we understand "generation" in a symbolic rather than literal sense, and "postcolonial" as indicating both ruptures and continuities with the colonial past. Thus, the varying ways of conceptualising these migrants are interwoven with colonial and postcolonial legacies, and they are also related to individual migrants' family history, generation, legal status and professional background.

Angolan-Portuguese workplace relations in contemporary Luanda

Author: Pétur Waldorff (Nordic Africa Institute/University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores Angolan-Portuguese workplace relations in contemporary Angola following a sharp recession in Portugal in tandem with an economic growth period in Portugal’s former colony Angola which has resulted in the recent large scale migration of Portuguese citizens to Angola.

Long Abstract

Portuguese migrants to its ex-colony Angola range from low to high skilled labour migrants working in Angola's booming construction sector, to banking and telecommunications experts and executives, as well as businessmen and women in search of fast and high returns on their investments. The advent of over 150 000 Portuguese migrants into Angola's economy with Portuguese nationals working side by side with Angolans as co-workers, bosses, and under-employees after 40 years of Angolan independence from Portugal has yielded diverse reactions, discourses and analyses of what is taking place and what it really means. In light of the two countries' shared colonial history disagreements arise, as well as cases of suspicion of intent and outright accusations of re-colonization, in addition to accusations on both sides of arrogance, xenophobia and racism. Ethnographic fieldwork in 2014 and 2015 has revealed that in Luanda's social and political context, Portuguese supremacy, higher wages, work related fringe benefits, and colonial attitudes and arrogance are condemned by Angolans while, concurrently, Portuguese migrants are dependent on Angolans for employment through work visas and business partnerships. Workplace inequalities, epitomized in salary disparities and workplace segregation in which Portuguese employees keep to themselves and eat and socialize separately, are among the grievances most commonly mentioned by Angolan informants working with Portuguese nationals. Through ethnographic examples, this paper investigates workplace relations and grievances and the symbolic colonial (and postcolonial) power Portuguese migrants represent in contemporary Luanda and Angolan employees' interpretation and reaction to it.

New XXI Century Portuguese immigration in Mozambique: transnationalism and postcolonial identities

Author: Eugénio Pinto Santana (IGOT- Lisbon University; ECA-Eduardo Mondlane University)  email

Short Abstract

Focused on the new XXI century migration movement of Portuguese towards Mozambique and from the perspective of a local researcher, the aim is to analyse colonial and post-colonial experiences in order to understand integration processes and the reconfiguration of post-colonial identities.

Long Abstract

Focused on the new XXI century migration movement of Portuguese towards Mozambique and from the perspective of a local researcher, the aim is to analyse colonial and post-colonial experiences in order to understand integration processes and the reconfiguration of post-colonial identities.

Although we live in the era of `new transnational migration` (Vertovec, 2009:14), the new social, political and identity dimensions that have repercussions in African countries that have liberated themselves from Portuguese colonization, the Lusophone Africa, have not been subjected to systemic studies.

The debate around migratory studies have been marked by analyses which the vision of the South has been largely absent and the majority of the researchers do conceive migration as a phenomenon that implies above all the dislocation from the South to the North, and is driven by economic dependency. However, particularly during the past twenty years, there has been a growing interest among Portuguese in migrating to Mozambique.

Based on about 400 surveys, interviews and participant observation this paper intends to demonstrate that the new North-South migration invite us to a debate on whether the existing theories of migration can be extended to all contexts. Some economic indicators suggest the practice of `perspective of the south` (Castles and Wise 2008:9) by the new Portuguese immigrants. The reconfiguration of post-colonial identities and power relations between the Portuguese immigrants and Mozambicans points to an emergence of ambivalent relations.

French presence in contemporary Algeria: a postcolonial memory & practices

Author: Giulia Fabbiano (IDEMEC, Aix-en-Provence / Mucem)  email

Short Abstract

While attention has been paid to the colonial flows from France to Algeria, the postcolonial ones have been largely neglected. I’ll focus on French presence in contemporary Algeria trough narratives & practices of a postcolonial golden cage: the Lycée international Alexandre Dumas, opened in Algiers in 2002.

Long Abstract

The French presence in Algeria has a long history, one reshaped by the end of French colonial domination (1962), the era of "coopération" (1962-1979) and Algeria's civil war (1991-1999). At the close of the 20th century, there seemingly was nothing left, in concrete terms, of "the epoch of France" ("waqt França"). Yet, still, this deeply rooted connection continued to obsess Algerians, absorbing both people of all social levels and how they imagine the world. The early 2000s, which saw the end of civil war violence and new economic development shaped by liberalism also witnessed new forms of movement between the countries. In parallel, both governments developed closer diplomatic ties. In 2002, the inauguration of the Lycée International Alexandre Dumas (LIAD) offered clear evidence of this shift. Such as a complex microcosm, its workings offer special insight into the diverse origins and postcolonial ambivalences that define the French presence in Algeria today. The school is supposed to help calm and normalize relationships between France and Algeria, yet the complicated and imbricated dynamics that make it work (statutory, national, and ethnic) summon the colonial past, even as they reveal delayed adjustments, ruptures, and blind spots.

Italian migrants to Morocco and the French influence: negotiating post-colonanial mobilities

Author: Maria Giovanna Cassa (University Milano-Bicocca)  email

Short Abstract

The paper discusses the first findings of a research conducted in Morocco with Italian migrants today. It will present ethnographical case studies highlighting personal and symbolic relationships between Italian French and Moroccans. Ideas of a good life, power and mobility will be central to the discussion.

Long Abstract

Italy wasn't a Morocco ex-colonizer nevertheless there was a large Italian community in the first half of the twentieth century. The history of the Italian presence in Morocco will be shortly discussed in order to better understand the present situation. Reflecting on Italian migrants in Morocco will underline how the high French presence has a role in shaping lives and imaginaries, not only for the ex-colonised but also for other subjects such as the expatriates and sun-Saharan migrants. "French culture and community" (using an emic perspective) are indeed symbolic landmarks in many ways. Both Italian and French migrants belong to a social elite able to shape models of development and behaviour. The ethnographic cases discussed will mostly be Italian families with adolescent children. They live a high-class life and share experiences in school with young Moroccans from elite families who hold local power and with the French and other expatriates. Analysing the experience of Italians and their cultural references makes it possible to highlight continuities and discontinuities in the colonial influence from a decentralised point of view. How the school system influences students' ideas about future, mobility and power and how it changes their way of dwelling will be presented. Family and student mobility in the city as well as other family decisions often depend on the school organization. The processes described also enriches understanding of the political meaning of claiming (or not) citizenship rights by transnational subjects as well as the emergence of a generation experimenting with multiple emplacements.

The social and transient time and space among Western expatriates

Author: Roger Norum (University of Leeds)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the ways in which the everyday spatial and temporal experiences of early-career Western expatriates produce various modes of group sociality.

Long Abstract

The spatial and temporal enclosures of transient actors reveal much about the social processes of being, becoming and belonging. Based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal, this paper explores how early-career expatriates experience liminal space and time. The experience of being always, already departing for somewhere else structures day-to-day life and often liberates them from the social and cultural norms, mores and strictures of 'home'. I consider the response to transience through the production of hypersociality - an urgent form of social interaction typified by rapidly formed, intensified social relation, extensive and frequent social obligation and ritual, and shared discourse of ephemeral social exchange. The paper also sheds light on the ways in which transient contexts contribute to risk, precarity and instability among groups commonly perceived as mobile, privileged, even elite. This is especially important to consider given the exponential growth of neoliberal employment structures (e.g. temporary fixed term contracts, secondments, etc.) which offer little long-term organisational job security or career stability.

Building religious homeland together: relations between Bengali and immigrant communities in West Bengal, India

Author: Teruko Mitsuhara (University of California, Los Angeles)  email

Short Abstract

This paper investigates the power relations between Bengali and foreign communities and highlights how interactions between the next generation of devotee children defy and continue cultural and linguistic hierarchies in Mayapur, West Bengal.

Long Abstract

A growing body of scholarship has explored Whiteness and power asymmetries in the Global South, depicting a bleak continuance of racial, class, and linguistic divides between foreigner elites and local populations (Hindman 2013; Fechter 2007; McIntosh 2014). By contrast, in Mayapur, a Bengali village in India, children of religious immigrants cross such divides in shared spaces such as the temple, school, and neighborhood.

Different to economic migration, the foreigners living in Mayapur migrated for religious reasons—to live in the birthplace of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a medieval Bengali religion dedicated to worship of Krishna. In the 1960s this religion was exported to England, Russia, and other Western countries with the mission to convert foreigners and ultimately build a religious homeland in Mayapur. In the West it transformed into a new religious movement known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which now has millions of international as well as Indian devotees who remit money to complete this spiritual city-making project.

Does this mean that their Indian guru's successful exportation of "theory from the South" (Comaroff/Comaroff 2012) has resulted in a peripeteia of the common narrative as Westerners fulfill his mission, using their funds and manpower to create an Indian spiritual city? Or are they merely engaging in a type of Orientalism, projecting their own imagination of Vedic India onto rural Bengal?

This paper investigates the power relations between Bengali and foreign communities and highlights how interactions between the next generation of devotee children defy and continue cultural and linguistic hierarchies.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.