Imagining the Violence to Come: Anticipation, Aspiration and Anxiety in the Burundian Crisis
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.
African migration imaginaries: rumours, cosmologies, representations