Accepted paper:

Destination home: social repositories of hope in Ghanaian migration


Nauja Kleist (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Paper short abstract:

Hope, characterized by simultaneous potentiality and uncertainty, offers an analytical prism for exploring the imaginaries of migration and destinations in a situation where images of mobility are widely circulated but access to international legal migration is out of reach for most Africans.

Paper long abstract:

I propose that hope offers a productive analytical prism for exploring destinations in the contemporary mobility paradox: the increased reach and accessibility of communication, media and transport technologies mean that people all over the world are exposed to visions of the good life elsewhere. At the same time, because of restrictive mobility regimes, the vast majority of people in the global South are excluded from the circuits of legal international migration. Hope, characterized by simultaneous potentiality and uncertainty, lends itself to analysis of how and if people keep on having faith in migration as a pathway to a better life in such a situation. I further suggest two concepts to refine the analysis: 1) topographies of hope (Mar 2005) - the mapping of opportunities and constraints onto places and 2) social repositories of hope - the spheres of life which inspire or evoke hope. Finally, I analyse destinations in the case of involuntary return migration to Ghana. Based on fieldwork among deportees and evacuees from Libya, I suggest that life in Ghana constitutes the ultimate destination in the topographies of hope for this group of migrants. Especially pre-civil war Libya was a destination for earning money to support one's family in Ghana and, in due time, return to a better life in Ghana, made possible by the economic rewards from migration. Despite the risks, overland migration is a repository of hope for realizing a better future life in Ghana in the absence of local desirable or convincing livelihoods.

panel P196
African migration imaginaries: rumours, cosmologies, representations