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Title:Victims of their fantasies or heroes for a day? Media representations, local history and daily narratives on boat migrations from Senegal
Author:degli Uberti, Stefano
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines (ISSN 0008-0055)
Geographic term:Senegal
Subjects:illegal migration
Abstract:In Senegal, 'boat migrations', the phenomenon that thousands of Senegalese and other West Africans have, since 2005, set off from the Senegalese, Gambian and Mauritanian coasts in order to reach the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands, has triggered a remarkable production of images and discourses. In the Senegalese mass-media and official discourses the pirogue migrants is portrayed as a 'kamikaze', a victim or a 'naive adventurer', who is driven to leave by the imagination of an idyllic European 'elsewhere', or by the desire to achieve the same economical wealth displayed by returning migrants. Conversely, numerous ethnographic studies sugest that for millions of Africans being mobile appears rather a 'way of life', a part of their daily experience, implying more than just movement of people in geographical space alone (De Bruijn et al. 2001). Drawing from the analysis of ethnographic data collected in Dakar and in the urban areas of M'bour-Saly, the author suggests that boat migrations could better be understood by examining not only the meanings conveyed by Senegalese media, but also the manifold forms of social representations of the migrant within Senegalese society, and the narratives of both migrants and non-migrants. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]