P 45

Far Away and Still Here: the African Diaspora

Panel abstract
Over the past two decades, the African diaspora has emerged as an important development, social, and political actor that is reconfiguring the meaning of citizenship and reshaping the relationship between states of origin and destination. Engaging the diaspora has become a key segment of policies being promoted at the national and international level. While remittances made by African diaspora still play an important role in their home countries, there are connections, which are hitherto not clearly visible. African migrants are taking political action (e.g. through social media) and influence the political and social landscape of their home countries.
This panel will take stock of the growing importance of the African diaspora. It looks at the African diaspora as (political) actor capable of making and unmaking history in the African continent. It invites an interdisciplinary conversation on questions pertaining to the African diaspora’s social and political agency as well as the opportunities and challenges stemming from evolving diaspora-states relations. Further, it investigates diaspora engagement policies being pursued by African states in their quest to extend rights to and extract obligations from the diaspora.

Time: Thursday, 28/06/2018, 2 - 4 pm
Venue: Seminargebäude, S 202

Convenors
Marie Cleo Mahouva Massela (Leipzig University)
Magdalene Pac (Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences)

Panellists
Daniel Chukwuemeka (Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria)
Magdalene Pac (Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences)
Laura Stielike (University of Osnabrück)

 

Paper abstracts

Daniel Chukwuemeka
A ‘Long Black Column of Ants’: The Contemporary Agency of the Igbo Diaspora in Dismantling the Colonial Foundation of African Nationhood

History will always find subtle ways to repeat itself. This paper aims to examine the roles being played by the Igbo diaspora—Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) group—in his quest to redefine the national identity of today’s Africans by outright rejecting the British colonial heritage of a heterogeneous country—one Nigeria. The rebellious Igbo slaves that self-drowned at what is today known as the Ebo Landing are reported to have sung a hymn in which the lyrics asserted that the water spirits will take them home. This resilient spirit of native consciousness was also replicated in the Biafra civil war of 1967—1970 in which the Igbos of the Eastern Nigeria fought fiercely for political independence, but lost. Following the outcome of the war, Igbos were rendered economically and politically disadvantaged, a dispossessed and powerless people, which, to borrow from the late Igbo poet Christopher Okigbo’s metaphor, is akin to a ‘long black/column of ants’ that mourn the death of their mother—their world. Consequently, a lot of talented young Igbo men and women are lost daily to already developed and developing countries of the world. This paper addresses how the Igbo diaspora, in the same spirit of home-consciousness and independence, exploits the wide reach of the social media in tackling this problem of homelessness and parasitic nationhood by advocating for self-determination and a homogenous entity. Using the example of Nnamdi Kanu’s struggle for the political independence of Biafra, this paper discusses how bright-minded Africans in the diaspora have always attempted to improve the African condition by the various ways they have so far envisioned an ideal, strong, independent and indigenous black African nation.

Magdalene Pac
Diaspora Policy in Sub-Sahara Africa

Today, the positive effects of migration are emphasized on the global, regional, and national level. Therefore, international organizations such as the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and the World Bank (WB) are increasingly calling upon national governments to mobilize and engage with their diaspora communities to harness the economic potentials of migration. The recommended policies are summarized with the term diaspora policies (DP). In general, only very little is known about DP – especially DP in Sub-Saharan African countries. Most studies undertaken so far describe the different approaches of DPs but do not deal with the backgrounds of the policies. In order to address this research gap the presented paper searches to understand the motives behind DP in Sub-Saharan Africa from a comparative perspective by looking at DPs in general and at DP in Ghana and Cameroon in particular. Two countries that represent the scale between a democracy (Ghana) and autocracy (Cameroon) and between a more elaborated DP (Ghana) and a DP in its beginning (Cameroon). However, with all the differences, there are many similar patterns within the two cases. The results of the study suggest that governments do not only implement DP to harness the economic potential of migrants as international organizations make it appear. The motives behind DP are much more complex as mostly political interests overlap developmental motivations. Further, it has to be looked more closely at the diaspora and other actors such as returnees, as they also shape diaspora policies. At the implementation level, a capacity gap is obvious: Most institutions set in place (like ministries, secretariats, or working groups) are not working efficiently, and migrants’ rights (even when granted) are not fully implemented.

Laura Stielike
The Migration and Development Apparatus. Doing Diaspora in Contradictory Connections

At the beginning of the new millennium, the international development community began to rethink the relationship between migration and development. While in the 1980s and 90s migration had mostly been considered as detrimental to development because it was said to cause brain drain and social tensions, in the 2000s policy makers and development researchers started to highlight the positive effects of migration for the development of countries of origin and destination as well as for migrants themselves. The migration and development paradigm that has evolved within the last 15 years frames ‘diasporas’ both as a financial resource and as agents of knowledge transfer who make use of competences acquired in the country of destination for the development of the country of origin. Using the example of Cameroonian migration to Germany, I focus on the contradictions between the international political debate on migration and development, the diaspora policies of states and NGOs, and the perspectives of migrants themselves. I argue that taking a closer look at contradictions enables us to question seemingly secure knowledge on migration and development. Drawing on Michel Foucault‘s concept of apparatus, I analyse the migration and development paradigm as a network of discourses, practices, and modes of subjectivization. I argue that the migration & development apparatus is characterised by four major contradictory binaries: inclusion and exclusion, competence and incompetence, politicization and depoliticization, as well as dependency and independency.