Accepted Paper:

"It's like belonging to a place that has never been yours." Forced return migration and perceptions of involuntary immobility  


Heike Drotbohm (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with forced criminal return migration from the USA back to the country of origin, Cape Verde. It examines how so-called 'deportados' negotiate narratives of local and transnational belonging.

Paper long abstract:

In migration cultures such as Cape Verde, border-crossing plays a crucial role in the individual life-making process. Particularly for young people, it's comparable to a rite de passage, which they must undergo to become respected members of their community. While current changes in migration theories discuss the diversity of mobile life worlds, this paper deals with the often neglected reality of involuntary immobility.

Drawing on anthropological fieldwork in Cape Verde, I focus on forced criminal return migration from the USA back to the country of origin, Cape Verde. Those who failed abroad, and were brought back 'home' by force are confronted with a melange of hostility, rejection, idealization, and envy. Thereby, their life-making comes to a dead-end. Though being Cape Verdean citizens per passport, their habits of consumption and ostentatious display of an American lifestyle demonstrate a sense of cultural and social belonging to the US. Thereby, they show a disdain towards local ways of living.

The paper examines and theorizes the ways in which the so-called 'deportados' navigate their sense of belonging to a foreign place. It concentrates on the corporeal aspects of forced immobility at a place, where mobility is central to social recognition.

Panel Plen3
Immobilities: new challenges for anthropology in a globalised world (Young Scholars Plenary)