Accepted paper:

'Borga' Dreams. Hope, achievement and loss among deportees in Rural Ghana


Nauja Kleist (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines notions of hope, achievement and loss in relation to Ghanaian migration. It explores the local category of 'borgas' - characterising successful international migrants - vis-à-vis deportees, aiming to to analyse the tension between their societal and individual hopes.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines notions of hope, achievement and loss in relation to Ghanaian migration, exploring the local category of 'borgas' -´successful migrants from Western and North African countries - vis-à-vis deportees. It analyses the tension between societal and individual hopes of deportees and prospective migrants, asking the following questions: What visions of hope are distributed to deportees in Ghana? And how do deportees and their local communities perceive and renegotiate visions of hope, achievement and loss? The paper argues that the position and status of 'borgas' is ambivalent. On the one hand, 'borgas' are widely admired for their material wealth, Western lifestyle, and ability to care well for their family members. Furthermore being a 'borga' can be a way of surpassing and transforming social hierarchies and a fast mode of becoming a 'big man'. These aspects of the 'borga' position inspire notions of hope and achievement among young people in relation to unauthorized migration to Europe or Libya. On the other hand, the 'borga' position is becoming less prestigious as opportunities for wealth are growing in Ghana and as unauthorized migration is condemned by local and national authorities and elites who promote education and regular migration as the morally correct mode of achievement. Likewise, when migration projects of migrants do not succeed and they are deported, they risk becoming 'borga lose' - 'failed migrants' and the antithesis of success. There is thus a struggle between different scenarios of the good life, hope and aspirations of success and status.

panel MMM14
New geographies of hope and despair