Accepted paper:

Migrants' adventures: a moral experience

Author:

Sylvie Bredeloup (IRD)

Paper short abstract:

Expressions like “chercher la route” and “chercher la vie” have been used by several generations of African migrants. This paper explores whether this uniformity of expressing the desire to live differently helps migrants overcome the enormous difference between the life they dream of and the one they live.

Paper long abstract:

Among African migrants the word "adventure" is not just a generic expression of their aspirations for the future nor is "the adventurer" an analytical category invented by researchers to group migrants who overcome various risks and dangers to transgress the various barriers and borders which have been put in place to stem the flow of migrants. The notion of adventure, of being an adventurer, is an emic label that expresses a deeply felt desire to live in another way than is possible where the migrants come from or where they are. "Adventure" thus signifies migrants' aspirations to try different ways of living that involve fewer constraints, are more intense and more dignified. Among African migrants interviewed in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Libya and China, expressions like "chercher la route" and "chercher la vie" are common and have been used by several generations of migrants despite being a heterogeneous group and originating from different places and classes. This paper explores whether this uniformity of expressing the desire to live differently helps migrants overcome the enormous difference between the life they dream of and the one they live. This raises the question of whether migrants embrace the idea of migration being an adventure to downplay dangers, re-enact their journey and make sense of their experiences at a time when migration policies have been hardened across the globe and have created a militarisation of borders.

panel MMM14
New geographies of hope and despair