Accepted paper:

Checking out "dream places": young Africans as culture brokers in Malaysia

Authors:

Ute Röschenthaler (JGU Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

Young Africans, who move away from their home country with ideas about a good life abroad, are not simply migrating to have a better life for themselves alone; their migration cannot be seen separately from their urge to improve the economic situation in their home place and their wish to return.

Paper long abstract:

Since the 2000s, increasing numbers of young Africans travel to Malaysia as students. For many, however, the attainment of higher education is not all they have to achieve. They arrive with high expectations, happy to have escaped frustrating conditions at home, ready work for a better life and their return. However, as labour policies are more than complicated for them in Malaysia, they quickly realize that there are only few options to sustain their livelihood and achieve their objectives. Some become informal brokers who offer various kinds of services mostly for fellow Africans and play important roles as go-betweens, intermediaries and facilitators in a wide range of social activities and transversal networks. Others surrender to the idea of gaining money quickly and begin risky informal or illegal activities. Based on ethnographic field research, this paper examines such high expectations and harsh realities at the example of young Cameroonians and Nigerians who have travelled to Malaysia, due to the neoliberal policies that have reduced employment opportunities as civil servants in their home countries and complicate their becoming a respected person in society. This paper argues, that those young Africans who move away from their home places with ideas of a better life elsewhere, are not simply migrating to have a better life for themselves alone, but because of social pressure to contribute to the well-being of their families at home. This moral obligation is felt in the most far-away places and characterizes the ambivalent migration experience of these young people.

panel P084
Migration and the imaginaries of 'good life' [ANTHROMOB]