Accepted Paper:

Redressing the Northern bias in Africanist mobility research. South-South migration and postcolonial notions of belonging: lessons learned from the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria  
Maja Zwick (Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how South-South-migration has shaped notions of belonging of refugees living in extended exile. It challenges common assumptions on the periphery-centre-nexus, postcolonial notions of belonging and (im-)mobilities of refugees living in camps.

Paper long abstract:

In the public and the media, African postcolonial migration has mostly been represented as South-North-migration. Pictures of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, strengthen this perception. Moreover, African migration in postcolonial contexts is mostly perceived as movements of people from the formerly colonized peripheries to the colonial centres. Drawing on the case of the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria, this paper takes a critical approach to these assumptions. The camps are one of the most protracted refugee situations worldwide, resulting from the still outstanding decolonization of Western Sahara and ongoing colonial occupation of the territory by Morocco. Mobility and manifold, circular and multi-spatial migration, both in and out of the camps, have become a common feature in the everyday life of Saharawi refugees. Whereas some people and families have left the camps permanently, many others leave only to return or keep on returning. In this paper, I follow the migratory trajectories of one special group of these Saharawi "refugee-migrants" {Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2011 #203}, the Cubarawis - a term that refers to Saharawi refugees who studied and lived in Cuba and then returned to the camps, often after a long period. Exposing their notions of belonging to different places over time, I argue that South-South-Migration, rather than migration to the North, has led to new hybrid feelings of belonging. Thus, I challenge common assumptions on the colony-metropole-nexus, postcolonial notions of belonging and (im-)mobilities of refugees living in camps.

Panel Anth31
Decolonising Africanist migration research? [CRG AMMODI]