The Human Face of Migration: Recent West African Migrants in Western Europe

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This paper is the second part of my research exploring the recent migration of West Africans in Europe without the benefit of legal work papers. At the ASWAD Conference in October, 2007, I shared the formal and institutional reactions to the subject—reactions from the European Union and its related bodies like Frontex, the individual receiving countries as well as the nascent reactions from sending countries. The current paper stresses the human impact of migration. In Part 1, I provide a general overview of the subject: characteristics of the migrants, including the communities that often send them; the reaction of the general populous in the receiving countries; and the ever-changing routes of migrations. In Part 2, I delve into specific points of analysis, contrasting the current situation in Spain and Italy as case studies. In the former, patterns of West African migration are still emerging. In the latter, one notes an established community of West African immigrants, notably Senegalese. This research is partly based on initial interviews I will carry out in the winter months with recent migrants—both those who achieved their migration goals and those who failed. By comparing the two migration choices, along with research already conducted on the institutional side of the issue, I further the discussion on the immediate impact of migration on the families and on both the sending and receiving nations.


Keywords: Human Factors, Institutional Reactions, Push-Pull Factors, Sending Nations, Receiving Nations, West Africa, Western Europe
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , West African Migrants in Spain,


Dr. Yvonne Captain

Associate Professor, Dept of Romance, German, Slavic, Languages and  Literatures
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

Washington, D.C., USA

Professor Captain teaches courses related to Latin American Film and Intellectual History in addition to a course on U.S.-Africa Relations. She is an expert on the African Diaspora in Latin America and has broadened her research scope to include comparative approaches to the African Diaspora including: the historic Diaspora and the recent Diaspora; comparative regional Diaspora experiences; and Louisiana Creole experiences as part of the Diaspora. She has published, interviewed, and lectured widely on Latin America and is preparing a manuscript on the recent Diaspora in Europe. Finally, Professor Captain is the Executive Director of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars which boasts a membership of over 165 colleges and universities.

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