Accepted paper:

'EU is setting fire to the Sahel': Externalized EU Border Control, Smuggling, and Migrant Iconoclasm in the Central Sahara

Authors:

Hans Lucht (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on Niger, this presentation discusses local implications of EU driven policing of the Sahara desert with a view to curbing high-risk migration to Europe via North Africa.

Paper long abstract:

The Agadez province in northern Niger has in the past decade emerged as the nucleus for trans-Saharan migration to Libya and the irregular routes across the Mediterranean to Europe. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Niger, this presentation discusses the work of Ghanaian connection men on the desert trail as they struggle to accommodate local needs for mobility in a time of accelerated EU driven control and confinement. As their work has been criminalized and pushed underground, the migrant trail has become even more dangerous and kidnapping and extortion, violence, and death, has become even more widespread. Imprisonments and confiscation of vehicles has led to new and more dangerous routes opening and some reports suggest that as many die in the desert as on the Mediterranean Sea. This presentation will discuss the complexity of migration brokerage in a disjointed world and how migration brokers are under increasing pressure not only from the authorities - the return of the nation state in migration governance in Niger - but also from the fates of those who perish on the road. How does migration brokers understand and negotiate the recent EU crackdown on trans-Saharan migration and what kind of social and political worlds emerge as migrant lives are increasingly viewed as oppositional to the interest of European political economy?

panel P120
Antagonistic sociality: an anthropology of lives opposed