Accepted Paper:

Pursuing futures and making families: desires of elsewhere and obstacle to mobility on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border  


Aurora Massa (CNR)

Paper short abstract:

By focusing on a context where multiple regimes of mobility overlap, the paper show how young people on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border intertwine migration and kinship to face uncertain futures, influencing structures and meanings of family networks and moulding new intimate ties.

Paper long abstract:

By focusing on migratory paths of children of couples became mixed after the construction of national border between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1993), this paper analyzes the interlacements among migration and kinship in a context where multiple regimes of mobility overlap. Eritrean dictatorship triggered migration towards Ethiopia that is hampered by border closure and intertwined with desired mobility to Western countries. Facing uncertainty and obstacles, these children mobilize familial and intimate relationships to invent new ways of crossing borders; contemporaneously the desire of elsewhere deeply influence kin and affects.

Recent political changes transformed family ties in new criteria for defining citizenship, dismantling the naturalized dimension of genealogy. Kin became something subjects choose with repercussions on structures and meanings of current/past/future family networks: children use kinship to overcome local borders, often living this choice not as emancipation from ascribed social constraints, but as thorny acts. They also arrange marriages to penetrate within the global border regime, often building deterritorialized forms of intimacy for fulfill their aspirations. In both cases, their making family is influenced by past and present culture of migration and is also linked with the unmaking of previous and potential intimate relationships. Nevertheless, these choices are not merely tactics. Desired mobility passes through global imaginary and a Westernized legal system, conveying specific ideas of family and marriage (which distinguish between true/fake, modern/not-modern ones), and globally moulded ideas of future, intended with Appadurai as cultural facts, that influence how affects are imagined and constructed, intimacy is lived, and agency is shaped.

Panel P064
Mobility, precarity, and the activation of kinship and intimacy [ANTHROMOB]