Accepted Paper:

(Im)mobile families: regional and transcontinental Somali family networks  

Author:

Tabea Scharrer (University of Bayreuth, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation will discuss the importance of class for migration, using the example of regional and transcontinental Somali family networks. The argument will be based on fieldwork in Kenya, especially on genealogical and social network data.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation will discuss the importance of class (in the sense of the socio-economic foundation of 'life chances') for migration, using the example of regional (East African) and transcontinental Somali family networks. Even though the range of actual possibilities and perceived options for migration play a highly important role in the migration process, these factors are often neglected in the debate.

When the Somalian exodus started at the beginning of the 1990s, most refugees fled to the neighbouring countries including Kenya. Later on many Somalians moved to Europe or North America either legally by resettlement programs, or illegally by airplane (for those with more financial means) or over the Mediterranean (for those with less). In the last couple of years Somalians 'return' to Kenya, most of them are well off families or young adults with 'western' passports. But a great number of people stayed in Kenya, moving back and forth between the refugee camps, Somalia or the Kenyan cities. Those who stay in the region and those who have far reaching intercontinental family ties seem however to be strangely disconnected, especially when taking into account two important elements of the Somali society, its segmentary structure as well as the primacy of the extended family, which should act as uniting factors.

Using data derived from interviews, genealogies and network research conducted during fieldwork in Kenya with Somalian refugees as well as with Kenyan Somalis, it will be shown that class matters more than clan for the praxis and experience of migration.

Panel P030
Mobilities, ethnographically connected: beyond the 'gap' between internal and transnational migration [ANTHROMOB]