L'Agenda du GIS

Migration and exile in the Horn of Africa: State of knowledge and current debates – Khartoum, 16 – 18 November 2015

Call for Paper

CEDEJ (French Research Centre for Social Sciences) in Khartoum and CFEE (French Centre for Ethiopian Studies) in Addis Ababa invite interested participants to a scientific conference that will take place in Khartoum, 16-18 November, 2015.

Supported by the Institut français in Paris, the conference aims to create an overview of the current state of research on migrations in the Horn of Africa. It will focus on the recent fieldwork conducted in the migrants’ and exilees’ areas of origins, transit and destination.

Mobility is a major socio-political and economic dynamic in the history of this region. African and European researchers have, for a long time, been examining the different scales and dynamics of migratory flows. Empirical approaches will be emphasized during the conference in order to provide an overview of the existing social science research on migration within the Horn of Africa.

Increasing internal migration combined with a growing number of displaced people in the sub-region (especially Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan) have caught the media attention, as the number of deathly shipwrecks in the Mediterranean sea involving migrants from the Horn region has skyrocketed in the recent years, particularly since the beginning of 2015.

This trend calls for a more attentive analysis of the various types of mobility and of the diverse impacts of such migrations. Such approach brings to examine how the diverse ramifications of migration are restructuring political and socio-economic relations at regional as well as national levels. The link between pastoralism and internal migrations is of great significance in this respect. More broadly, migration needs to be linked with regional developmental and economic disparities, transformations in livelihoods, and urbanization in a context of political, economic as well as environmental instability.

Local levels of internal mobility (whether “voluntary” or “forced”) cannot be isolated from trans-border dynamics. The explorations of migratory flows, including those of refugees and displaced persons across borders in the region (Somalia-Kenya, Eritrea-Ethiopia, South Sudan-Uganda, Sudan-Chad, Egypt-Soudan, etc.) as well as across the Red Sea, have demonstrated that refugee and migrant trajectories constitute a series of stages and routes of goings and comings, including commuter trajectories. Seasonal migrations and forced displacements caused by violence, conflicts and drought stand side by side with regional migrations towards countries which are perceived as being safer and better equipped to offer opportunities for a new life, or at least for survival.

These cross-border local migrations are linked to broader migration processes, which are a part of international mobility within a particularly unstable and challenging context. These aforementioned elements are due to protracted and contemporary conflicts. They are also embedded in authoritarian political systems, and affected by the policies deployed by international organizations in order to alleviate the lack of state regulations where states are supposed to be too fragile.

The Horn of Africa constitutes a frontier-region from more than one vantage point since it encompasses several heterogeneous migratory flows:

 – Intra-regional migrations primarily linked with conflicts but also with economic and climatic catastrophes;

– Migrations to the oil-producing Gulf countries,

– Migrations to European countries and Israel, via Egypt or Libya.

Evidently, it is the migratory flow to European countries that is of special focus to the European Union as well as the major international organizations. While the international aid resources diminish and the immigration and asylum policies in European countries become more and more hostile towards those migrants arriving from the Horn of Africa, it seems pertinent to reevaluate the conditions that favour migrations in/from the region.

Funding policy related to humanitarian aid and development projects in the region is to be scrutinized, as well as the contribution of the diasporas (like the Somali and Sudanese diasporas in Great Britain, the Sudanese diaspora in Egypt, or the Eritrean Diaspora in Sweden and in the United States) to the economic viability of the country of origin or even to the very survival of the migrant communities scattered between African cities and refugee camps.

In this conference, we intend to distance ourselves from the studies that focus mainly on the causes of departure (the ‘why’ question), as a way to underscore instead the dynamics and conditions of mobility (the ‘how’ question).

We invite papers that elaborate the following themes, among others:

– What are the connections between the different scales of migration? To what extent are they interdependent? In this way, we avoid dualistic classifications which separate internal and international migrations, and rather favour the analysis of places of departure, transit and arrival, experiences of exile as well as circular and return migration.

– What are the recent developments of these migrations? How do they affect, at different scales, the political and economic situation of the countries of origin, transit and destination?

– What are the diverse networks and agents that encourage, support and benefit from the processes of migration? What role do the new technologies and communication networks play in influencing and orienting the pathways of migrants?

– What are the institutional, economic, political and social modalities that frame the experiences of migrants in the places of origin, transit and destination? To what extent are they heterogeneous and what are the interfaces between them?

– In what ways does the experience of migration affect and transform identities, statuses and social relations of individual migrants and their groups?

– To what extent can interdisciplinary approaches contribute to a deeper understanding of migratory processes?

We encourage a close consideration of generational and gender sensitive lines of analysis in addressing these themes.

Please send abstracts of a maximum of 400 words and a short biographical note no later than 23 May, 2015, to alicefranck@yahoo.fr and direction@cfee.cnrs.fr. Please indicate if your institution can support your travel expenses and become a partner of the event, or if, on the contrary, you require a financial support from the organisers of the conference. Due to limited funding, only a small number of travels will be covered.

 Scientific Committee:

– Katarzyna Grabska (IHEID, CEDEJ Khartoum)

– Hélène Thiollet (CNRS, Science Po)

– Alice Franck (CEDEJ Khartoum)

– David Ambrosetti (CFEE)