Accepted Paper:

Associational life, citizenship and the public sphere in Britain: the case of two Ghanaian associations in London  


Mattia Fumanti (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to illustrate the different ways in which Ghanaian migrant associations in London engage with dominant discourses on multiculturalism and citizenship in Britain’s public sphere. The paper will show how these different strategies reflect emerging cleavages and differences within the Ghanaian community as well as highly bureaucratised and exclusionary practices that regulate access to the public sphere.

Paper long abstract:

By placing community building and active citizenship at the centre of its policies on migration, New Labour's has set its vision for multicultural Britain and redefined the meaning of citizenship through participation in the public sphere and associational life. Within this context London has seen a dramatic increase in its migrant associational life with thousands of migrants associations. Yet although some associations engage with the government initiatives at local level, many others remain concerned exclusively with the welfare of its members and with assisting in a charitable way various development projects in the home country rather than promoting active citizenship. In this paper I explore the different ways in which Ghanaian migrants associations in London respond to the great drive towards migrant associational life in the capital. I here focus in comparative terms on two associations. These associations provide an important contrast as they engage in different ways with the local authority's initiatives and in building London public sphere. I here want to argue how this contrast reflects the emergence of generational, gender and class cleavages, often related to the migrant status, within the Ghanaian migrant community as well as cultural and social practices originating in the home country, but also the often exclusionary, discriminatory and highly bureaucratised practices and policies that regulate access to resources and funding from the local authorities in London. Ultimately in fact both associations suffer in different ways from the dominant discourse that enforce the associational experience of migrants to the idea of an active citizenship and of multicultural Britain

Panel W088
Migrant associations in Europe: simultaneous incorporation, everyday cosmopolitanisms and actually existing citizenship