Accepted paper:

Imagining the Violence to Come: Anticipation, Aspiration and Anxiety in the Burundian Crisis

Authors:

Simon Turner (Copenhagen University)

Paper short abstract:

Through a close, ethnographic study of the decisions to decisions to stay or leave Burundi in a crisis situation that is still unfolding and often still only a potential threat, we explore how family members weigh the risk of physical insecurity up against the risk of loosing livelihoods.

Paper long abstract:

Imaginations are powerful in both migration narratives and in the decision to actually pack up and leave for another destination. Imaginations are emotional but they are also directed towards a future elsewhere and hence towards the unknown. They anticipate futures and help migrants-to-be seek out potentialities; hopes for a better future. While these imaginations and anticipations may focus positively on the potentials of better lives elsewhere - what we might call 'aspirations' - other kinds of anticipation may be oriented towards the negative futures that may occur; futures that 'block' possible personal progress. These anticipations we may call 'anxieties'. Our paper explores how anxieties play into family decisions to stay or leave Burundi during the present low-intensity conflict. Often forced migration studies assume that conflict and violence simply 'push' people to be displaced. Through a close, ethnographic study of the decisions to move in a crisis situation that is still unfolding and often still only a potential threat, we explore how family members weigh the risk of physical insecurity up against the risk of loosing livelihoods. Not only are they making a choice between security and survival; they are simultaneously trying to predict the future in each case. The result is often, that the family moves in steps: At first they stay temporarily with relatives, then the father or mother returns in order not to loose their income, then both leave, or they all return, etc.

panel P196
African migration imaginaries: rumours, cosmologies, representations