Fiction and Reality of Mobility in Africa

The aim of this project is to explore how to marry ethnography and fiction in understanding the intricacies, nuance and complexity of African mobility and mobile Africans as frontier beings. The project seeks to draw on rich ethnographies and ethnographic fiction depicting mobile Africans and their relationships to the places and people they encounter, to argue that the mobility of Africans is more appropriately studied as a frontier, emotional, relational and social reality. Currently, nationals, citizens and locals are instinctively expected to close ranks and fight off mobile Africans perceived to bode little but inconvenience and savagery. The tendency and practice are to index, incarcerate, regiment and deport. If tolerated, emphasis is on the needs, priorities and convenience of reluctant hosts. The project explores the challenge to scholarship of going beyond academic sources for ethnographies and accounts of how a deep, flexible and nuanced understanding of mobility and interconnections in Africa and by Africans play out in different places and spaces in a world permanently on the move.

Project leader(s):
  • Francis Nyamnjoh (Cape Town)

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