Accepted Paper:

The Sahara, a desert on the move: beyond the Mediterranean Sea and the EU Southern Border  
Oriol Puig (University of Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

Since 2015, the EU externalization of borders in Sahel countries connects migration, development and security. This containment policy has changed the trans-Saharan mobility and transformed the region as another outpost of Fortress Europe, beyond the Mediterranean Sea and the Southern Border.

Paper long abstract:

The Sahara desert served as a moving space in the last centuries, as an important territory of exchange values, ideas and products. Since 2015, the European Union (EU) is obsessed to stem migration flows getting to Europe with an externalization of borders in different Sahel countries as Niger, Mali or Burkina Faso. With a dangerous link between migration, development and security, these vulnerable states became the new outpost of Fortress Europe, beyond the Mediterranean Sea and the Southern border in Ceuta and Melilla. They took the old Kaddafi's role controlling irregular migration and criminalising the movement across the desert for financial assistance exchange.

This paper focuses on the consequences of this conditionality of international cooperation, especially through EU emergency Trust Fund, and analyses the impact of this restrictive migration policy for the populations of the zone -Tuareg, Tubu, Sonray-Zarma or Hausa, among others-. We highlight the importance of Sahara mobility and we analyse the effects of the externalization of border for circular and historical movements within the region that means the clandestinization of routes, the accentuation of migrant's vulnerability or the expansion of human trafficking. Going further Eurocentric approaches and discourses dedicated to migration flows to the Old Continent, we place the peoples of Sahel zone at the centre of our research putting their initiatives, potential and capacities in our focus and placing the Sahara desert at the forefront of migration field, giving it the relevance deserved as the biggest outdoor cemetery of the world.

Panel Anth31
Decolonising Africanist migration research? [CRG AMMODI]