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This panel aims to challenge prevalent theory on female migration, drawing from new empirical research, based on data collected around the world and by revisiting historical sources.
In the last decades, female migration has attracted a great interest among social scientists and international policy makers. This growing interest in female migration, in particular on the African continent, results from the exponential expansion of independent migratory enterprises. Previously, the female displacement was thought to take place only inside the family framework (i.e. wives accompanying their spouses or travelling by themselves to join their husbands; daughters, sisters and the like to reunite with their relatives). The growing flows of autonomous female migration [AFM] claimed for a new typology of migration. Henceforth, women who migrated alone were thought to be unmarried and their movements - predominantly to African countries - were believed to take place with the purpose of economic and social emancipation, despite assuming female migratory enterprises to be first and foremost family strategies. Over the last years, some authors have been challenging questioning some of the theoretical assumptions that support female migration theory especially through historical sources revisiting and new empirical evidence collected during ethnographic field. The AFM was understood to be not such a new phenomenon. It could also involve married women, and not always meant social emancipation. This panel aims to contribute to the consolidation of a less normative female migration theoretical approach which highlights the plurality of constraints beyond AFM decision-making. Papers based on historical and empirical data collected in and beyond Europe ethnographic fields are welcome.