Accepted Paper:

Challenging and re-making borders: Ethiopian migrants among desire of mobility, local borders and European policy  


Aurora Massa (CNR)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the intertwine among desire for future and opportunity of mobility of Ethiopian migrants and the barriers built by UE policy. It also shows how local borders can become a capital for transnational mobility putting in place a process of challenging and re-making borders

Paper long abstract:

European migration policy can be considered as part of a border regime that regulates the global mobility and shapes the creative ways through which people handle it well beyond its edge. This paper is based on an ethnographic research carried out in the Ethiopian town of Mekelle, that is the crossroads of multiple borders at symbolic, national (the Ethio-Eritrean frontier) and transnational (the global consequences of the UE border policy) level. The desire of an elsewhere, that represents one of the way through which the young try to reach their expectations for the future shifting the idea of individual progress from a movement through time to a movement through space, is indeed prevented by the obstacles to global mobility. In this perspective, the crossing of transnational borders emerges both as project composed by imaginaries which change according to choices and contingencies, and as strategy used for coping with different times of life. Through a perspective from below, I will firstly focus on the biographical paths of some subjects analyzing the intertwine among their ideas for the future, their opportunities and barriers to mobility. Secondly, I will shed light on local borders, showing how they can become a capital for transnational mobility putting in place a simultaneous process of challenging and re-making borders. Indeed, the interplay of symbolic and institutional borders characterizing Mekelle can be handle by social actors for the over stretching of other borders, particularly those that are raised by European immigration policy.

Panel Mig004
Pursuing utopias/challenging realities: producing and resisting borders in and out of Europe