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Accepted Paper:

To move or not to move: Anglophone migrants’ housing experiences in Douala, Cameroon  
Els Keunen (University of Stuttgart)

Paper short abstract:

Douala hosts many anglophone migrants, more so since the anglophone crisis started, potentially leading to a volatile relationship between migrants and the host population. While anglophone migrants confirm disruption by the crisis, they usually feel at home in Douala and do not feel discriminated.

Paper long abstract:

Douala has since long exerted attraction on migrants due to its economic opportunities. At macro level however, several aspects potentially contribute to a volatile relationship between migrants and the host population in Cameroon: 1) multiple ongoing armed conflicts, among which the anglophone crisis (see e.g. Annan et al., 2021), 2) widespread translocal practices (Steinbrink & Niedenführ, 2020) that might reduce the sense of belonging of migrants and 3) the government’s long-established politics of ethnic differentiation (Geschiere & Nyamnjoh, 2001; Ndjio, 2016).

Based on in-depth interviews with anglophone migrants carried out in 2022, this paper explores if and to what extent these macro-level issues play out at the micro-level. Using a housing pathways approach (Clapham, 2002), it analyses the residential mobility of anglophone tenants to and within Douala to better understand their housing experiences and motivations to move. It finds that 1) the anglophone crisis has severely affected the lives of many respondents. Many have come to Douala because of the crisis or feel their residential mobility options are reduced as they won’t return to the anglophone areas before the crisis has ended. 2) While one group of respondents has much clearer intentions of staying long-term in Douala, another group is undecided or likely to move away when an opportunity presents itself. However, almost all respondents indicate feeling at home in Douala, thus translocality is not necessarily affecting sense of belonging. 3) Similarly, despite language and cultural differences, respondents mostly did not experience discrimination or encountered hostility from the host population.

Panel Urba13
Migration and the making of urban futures in Africa
  Session 2 Friday 2 June, 2023, -